BLACKPOOL’S MPs have added their voices to the debate around the resort’s future.
Supporting “genuinely vulnerable” people and instilling more confidence in the town centre to boost the economy are among the calls made by Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, and Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden.
Their response follows council leader Simon Blackburn’s open letter to residents – featured in The Gazette on Saturday – urging them to join forces in solving the town’s problems.
Click here to read how The Gazette reported Simon Blackburn’s letter:
Tory MP Mr Maynard said he welcomed Coun Blackburn’s ‘honest recognition of the need for real change in the town’.
He said one priority must be “to reconnect the town centre with its residents”.
Mr Maynard added: “It is too frequent a comment to me to ignore the fact people do not feel it is ‘their’ town centre anymore.
“This is not to say we turn our back on the visitors that sustain a key pillar of our economy, but we have to find a balance that restores Blackpool to its residents.
“I am glad Coun Blackburn is recognising what is driving my support for the difficult process of welfare reform we are engaged in as a Government, as we try to ensure those who are seeking to do the right thing are rewarded.
“It would be easy for this town to turn in on itself, and throw up the barriers to keep everyone out, but that is not a workable solution. Ensuring the various parts of our healthcare economy work in harmony is.”
Mr Maynard also called for traffic issues to be resolved which he said are an obstacle to people finding work.
He said: “We need to ask whether the ever-changing traffic issues and a seeming anti-car philosophy at times in the town centre are not dividing us as a community to the point I am finding jobseekers sanctioned by the Jobcentre when they express a lack of confidence they can get adequately from one end of the town to the other by public transport during rush hour.
“The town centre risks becoming an isolated island which occupies the bulk of the council’s attention, but is somewhere locals feel a decreasing connection with.”
Labour’s Mr Marsden said while it was vital to do everything possible to encourage people into work, it would be wrong to disadvantage vulnerable people.
And he added, the town still had to strive to put forward its best image to visitors despite the tough times.
He said: “At the moment when everyone feels very bruised and vulnerable, we have to get the balance right.
“We have to support the genuinely vulnerable but we also have to ensure people who work hard feel it is their town too.
“Blackpool has always been at its best when it has been bold planning for its future, and we must put our best face forward - we have had some major improvements to our infrastructure.
“People have to be encouraged to work hard and not abuse the benefits system, but at the same time it is not an excuse for cutting support for the genuinely vulnerable.”