TRADERS have today revealed the devastating cost of crippling Promenade roadworks in the resort.
Businesses contacted by The Gazette said they had been victim of more than £500,000 worth of losses because of regeneration work in the resort – but the true cost could run into millions.
Blackpool Transport reported a loss of £300,000 alone from bus takings in the six months since the Promenade was closed to traffic.
And hoteliers on the Promenade told The Gazette Blackpool Council had “cut the resort’s artery” after they suffered substantial losses because of the decision to close the route while work is carried out on Blackpool’s flagship Festival Headland.
Newly-installed town hall leader Coun Simon Blackburn today vowed to step in to support the beleaguered businesses and reopen roads as soon as possible.
Alex McGlynn from the Aloha Hotel on North Promenade, was relying on last weekend’s Young Farmers’ Conference at the Winter Gardens to boost trade – but only managed to fill one bed out of 50.
He told The Gazette: “The only reason I got anyone in was because The Stretton Hotel closed its doors and passed a guest on to me.
“At this time of year I should have about 20 or 30 people in and be at least half full during the weekends.
“And since Wednesday they have completely closed the Promenade outside my door for three weeks and I will have no passing motorists for that period of time.”
Mr McGlynn said they would expect to have 25 people for between two and three nights over the course of year, but had not managed to fill up outside of the Bank Holidays, costing them an estimated £67,000.
Blackpool Transport managing director Trevor Roberts said all they could do was hope to recoup the loss when the Prom reopens in June.
He added: “It hasn’t got any easier, it’s got worse.
“Once you close the Promenade, there aren’t many options to get from north to south.
“It affects both residents and tourists.
“It’s been frustrating – it’s made running buses very difficult over the last six months.
“We are probably down in excess of £300,000 in bus revenue.
“We’ve heard people saying they’ll come back when all the work has finished so we are all hanging on for when the Promenade will re-open.
“In the last five months the majority of our complaints have been about reliability. We accept it’s an issue but it’s very hard to get through the town centre and you can’t get through any faster by car.”
The roads are in such upheaval that the new leader of Blackpool’s Conservative group Coun Peter Evans this week claimed it had been the Tories’ undoing at the recent local elections.
Ron Adams, owner of the Bedford Hotel, North Promenade, has quoted a loss of £50,000 since the work began in November.
He said: “They have severed the main artery in Blackpool by closing the Promenade.
“The council has not invited any of us to go down there or gave us relief to any of the closed routes.
“It’s like me going into the road and cutting the power to an office for six months.”
Graham Reed from the Baron Hotel said he would normally have taken on more staff to help in the hotel but has not been able to offer work because of the lack of trade.
He added: “There is no need to employ anyone because there’s not as many people coming in.
“I have spoken to the planning office at the council to see if they would come down and put up some signs up but they never got back to me.
“It’s the main arterial route up into the Promenade and if they did it at least it would show they would care about us.”
Hoteliers were not the only ones struggling as resort roads had ground to a halt.
Bill Lewtas, secretary of Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association, said: “Taxis are still struggling to cope with the effects of the road closures.
“We have the Bank Hey Street diversion route after 7pm, but during the daytime the congestion and lengthy diversion routes are losing us business.
“We would like to see an effort made to re-open roads as soon as possible. If this can be achieved before June 17 why not bring the date forward?”
Coun Blackburn labelled the road network as an “appalling state” and said he was looking at creating temporary relief by opening some of the roads as soon as possible.
He added: “These roadworks have cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds to Blackpool’s businesses and there’s a lot of firms under threat because of the roadworks. In the past few days we have been talking to the officers and we’re looking to see if we can create some temporary relief by opening up some of the roads.
“Blackpool’s road network is in an appalling state.
“My concern is not that the work has to be done – it’s the manner in which it has been done in a town which is seasonally driven.
“In the future when planning roadworks, we will be talking to taxi drivers, transport firms, hoteliers and all those affected - and we’ll be listening too.
“If we could get them done in three weeks we would – but it’s not going to happen.”