Politicians at war over tramway extension bid

An artists impression of Blackpool's proposed tram extension
An artists impression of Blackpool's proposed tram extension

Blackpool Tories have been accusing of making a u-turn by refusing to support proposals to extend the town’s tramway.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said the Conservatives had previously gone on record to back moves for a new stretch of track up Talbot Road linking the Promenade with North Station.

He told a meeting of the council the scheme had even been in the Tory 2015 election manifesto.

Coun Blackburn added: “When Coun Peter Callow was leader they put points down, buried underground, to enable the track to go up Talbot Road.”

But the Conservatives said their change of heart had come about in response to objections from some parts of the community.

Coun Maxine Callow said: “Since all this we have spoken to a lot of people.

“We have spoken to taxi drivers, and even the Sacred Heart Church doesn’t want it.

“A lot of people are opposed to it and that’s why in my heart of hearts, I can’t accept it.”

Coun Peter Callow said although points had been put in, the potential junction was not necessarily to take trams up Talbot Road. He said they could have been for the track to go up Clifton Street which is where trams had operated in the past.

The Labour group and a single Conservative councillor Paul Galley voted in favour of the recommendation to confirm the resolution to extend the tramway, while the remaining Conservatives voted against it.

The scheme is currently being considered by the Secretary of State for Transport, while objections to the application are also being looked at.

The council says the scheme will help regenerate the town by providing a link between the tramway and the railway station for the first time.