POLICE have taken to the streets in a bid to drive prostitution out of Blackpool’s holiday heartland.
The Gazette joined officers on the hard-hitting Operation Azure – which came after hoteliers and local businesses said the resort’s seedy sex trade was ruining their businesses.
One hotelier on Coronation Street even admitted he had sold up and was leaving town because of the problems with prostitutes.
The businessman, who did not wish to be identified through fear of reprisals, said: “It’s a dump. I came here to invest money in the town but I’m getting out. It’s the prostitution and batterings, it’s all drug-related.
“My guests come here for the ballroom dancing, not to see this on the streets.
“Many of them say they would never bring their children here because of what’s going on.”
The hotelier said many surrounding family-friendly businesses were suffering from the effects of Blackpool’s sex trade.
Lyn, a hotelier on Palatine Road who again did not want to reveal her full name for fear of being targeted, said: “We have women working on the street, it’s every day from around tea time.
“It just never ends. Maybe the authorities should move the women onto an industrial area away from the holidaymakers.
“When you are trying to run a business and you have got these women in front of your hotel, it doesn’t leave a good impression.”
Lh Tang, a resident on Central Drive, Blackpool, said residents became used to seeing the sex workers but it came as a shock to visitors.
She added: “It affects businesses in the area, it’s not nice.
“I live here so I get used to it, but people who come to Blackpool, what do they think when they see it?
Another hotelier on Palatine Road, who did not wish to be named, welcomed the police action after they were abused by workers when they tried to intervene.
He added: “This has been going on for four years and I don’t know what the answer is.
“The women don’t care, they just flaunt it. If you say anything, you get threatened, you get told where to get off.
“They are usually there from Thursday, every night over the weekend. They swap jackets and one girl sometimes wears a wig to change her appearance.
“It’s not nice if you have got people with children staying at the hotel.
“The police doing an operation like this is better than nothing. There needs to be a deterrent.”
The Gazette joined police during Operation Azure which has seen officers patrolling hot spot areas in an unmarked car around Palatine Road, Central Drive and Livingstone Road.
One sex worker was given a warning for loitering and touting for work on Palatine Road while others were pointed in the direction of substance abuse charity Drugline to get help.
One of the women, in her 40s, said she was seeking help to get her off the streets.
She added: “I’m trying to stop it. I’m fed up at the moment, life’s hard sometimes.”