Our town is crying out for exciting new arena
I am a massive live music fan, as well as an amateur musician myself, and regularly attend gigs at local pubs and venues.
But often I am forced to travel to Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds to see most bands.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw the amazing Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls at Manchester Academy, an absolutely electric atmosphere amongst the 1,000-strong crowd.
But the reason I often have to travel to see artists is because of a lack of suitable music venues in Blackpool.
The Winter Gardens is a great asset to the town, and has just recently hosted some great names like Rudimental, The Vaccines and more, but only on occasion.
In contrast, medium sized and larger venues like Manchester Academy and the Liverpool Echo arena are hosting the big names most nights and all year round.
A friend who is in the know in the music business once told me many bands tend to avoid the Winter Gardens, as sound engineers state the set-up and the acoustics are just not suitable for modern acts, and they prefer purpose-built venues like those above.
In my view, the former Syndicate nightclub would have been perfect for an Academy-style venue and I am devastated to see it has been demolished for a car park, which adds nothing to the town.
The Winter Gardens is perfect for shows like Mamma Mia, but it is sadly no competition for modern music venues, something our town is crying out for.
In the same vein, a Blackpool arena is something I feel would give the resort an all year round attraction not affected by poor weather conditions and would allow us to bring the big stars to the town on a regular basis.
The superb local company Cuffe and Taylor have proved Blackpool and the Fylde coast can pull in the big artists and put on a great show, so let’s do something bold and exciting and bring a Blackpool arena to the Central Station site.
To quote Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”
Market could boost town
This month, I paid my annual visit to the fantastic Manchester Christmas markets, and as always I was not disappointed.
There was a fantastic festive vibe all around and the city was packed with visitors from all over even on a cold, wet and windy Saturday in December.
There was a great selection of traditional continental food and drink and streets of stalls selling all manner of products, not to mention plenty of free samples.
The markets really are a great family day out, and the visitor numbers speak for themselves.
Manchester welcomed more than half a million visitors in the first 10 days of this year’s markets opening.
So I ask the question as do many others, why hasn’t Blackpool joined the ever growing phenomenon of the Christmas market?
As a popular and thriving tourist resort, surely this is right up our street?
We have great open spaces and streets such as St John’s Square, Church Street and Victoria Street which would be ideal to host the markets.
I strongly believe markets would give our town a real winter boost, bringing visitors from all over, boost local trade in the evening and there could be great opportunities for local traders to get on board.
We could even follow the example of London in forming a Winter Wonderland with an outdoor ice rink and other Christmas themed attractions to offer an even fuller festive experience for all the family.
The Christmas trees and lights in the town look fantastic, but I really feel we are missing out on a golden opportunity with Christmas markets.
Enterprise Zone brings new hope
I’ve never seen politics as a career, I do love politics and I love Blackpool especially my home of South Shore.
I became a councillor to make Blackpool and my local area a better place. I often talk to my constituents about what can be done to improve Blackpool and good quality job opportunities is a common theme, especially from younger people.
Many young people will leave Blackpool for university and sadly not return, as better job opportunities lie elsewhere.
Tourism is the beating heart that keeps Blackpool alive, but the seasonal nature of tourism is a large part of why our town is short of good quality jobs. I was delighted when the Chancellor announced the Blackpool Enterprise Zone, which I hope will bring new businesses to Blackpool and create some much-needed opportunities for our young people.
I hope the Enterprise Zone will allow us to tap into new markets like e-commerce and micro-technology.