Street’s residents tell of fears

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TRADERS and residents today revealed their fears after a spate of violent crime on their street.

Queen Street has witnessed assaults, a stabbing and an armed robbery during recent months.

Police were called to 14 violent incidents on the street in August alone.

And the road was cordoned off outside the Catholic Club for six hours on Monday following reports of an assault.

That followed an incident last month where a mass brawl broke out outside a late-night bar on the street.

And Roy Rhodes, manager of Booze Busters on Dickson Road, at the junction with Queen Street, courageously defended his store when a gun-toting raider attempted to hold up his off-licence in July.

He said: “Residents are getting increasingly upset about the late night drinking in this area.

“People are pouring out of bars and that is when things kick off and they are running riot.

“There are constant complaints about the noise, just ask the late night takeaways, things have been hotting up recently.”

Another local businesswoman, who did not wish to be named, added: “All sorts seems to go on around here, assaults, stabbings, brawls.

“Every time I come to work I wonder if there will be a cordon up outside the shop, it is dreadful. It’s like a war zone some mornings.

“Some people should just not drink, it always seems to be people coming out of the pubs.”

A woman was left in hospital on Monday after she reportedly started a fight with a man in the street before falling to the ground and sustaining a nasty gash to her head.

Pauline Shah, who lives in a flat on Queen Street, said her neighbour has been forced to move house because of the increasing violence and noise.

She added: “I think it is getting worse, my neighbour loved his flat but he had enough, he couldn’t sleep, all we can hear is music thumping and people shouting throughout the night.

“My boyfriend is always telling me to stay in my flat at night.

“I think the problems were made worse by the late night bars along here, it seems to be every night of the week, we get a lot of people hanging around on a Monday.”

Locals have reported large numbers of revellers making the trek between Queen Street and late night venues on Dickson Road when trouble has broken out.

In February, a woman and man were attacked by two women armed with a craft knife on Queen Street, sparking a major police investigation.

Basil Newby, the owner of Blackpool’s famous Funny Girls and boss of In the Pink Leisure, told The Gazette Queen Street was at saturation point for businesses selling alcohol.

He said: “It’s unfortunate for those living on Queen Street, Market Street and Clifton Street as they have become the area where the pubs and clubs are based.

“I sympathise with those who live in that area but it’s an isolated area and pubs need to be located somewhere.”

But Mr Newby said he was surprised to hear there were problems on Monday nights as the first day of the week was his quietest night, attracting around 200 revellers on average.

He added: “I think the problem has become worse since the late licence laws came into play, kick-out time used to be 2am and the streets would be dead by 2.30am.

“I know people walk along Queen Street to get to Flamingos but the main route is from Talbot Road or out of the Flying Handbag.

“And of course some of the problems are caused by people who have been drinking at home and not in the pubs.

“But I have noticed a strong police presence, especially on Queen Street and pubs have measures in place to reduce violence.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman declined to reveal full details of the 14 violent incidents in August.

But she said: “Queen Street is a busy street in the heart of Blackpool with a large number of bars and a busy night time economy.

“We run specific policing operations to prevent alcohol-related crime, such as PubWatch and Operation Aslan, particularly during busy weekends.

“We also work very closely with the licensed trade in the town to try to reduce incidents of violence and anti-social behaviour associated with the night time economy.

“This area has its own dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Team and there are extra patrols working in the town centre in the lead-up to and over busy periods, including officers from the force mounted branch.”