Choose seafront over cereal

Councillor Tony Williams on Blackpool Promenade.
Councillor Tony Williams on Blackpool Promenade.
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Blackpool’s Tory leader today called for the council’s free schools breakfast scheme to be axed – and the money used to transform the Promenade.

It comes as Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams also hit out at the £106m debt the authority is currently carrying.

As revealed in The Gazette earlier this week, Blackpool Council is debating the future of the controversial shared space layout on the central stretch of the Prom - with at least four options under consideration.

And Coun Williams today said council leader Simon Blackburn should scrap the flagship schools breakfast scheme until a later date – and plough cash into transforming the Prom instead.

“He needs to decide what he thinks is most important,” he said.

“I would say it would be reckless if they went ahead and borrowed more money to make this change.

“It’s a priority that the Prom has to be put right, and the only money I know which has been put aside is mainly for the free breakfast scheme.”

Among options understood to be under consideration for the proposed new-look Prom are retention of shared space with slight alterations, and a completely revamped four lane layout.

But despite describing a return to a four-lane format as “the real solution” earlier this week, Coun Williams admitted he now believed investment in a second north to south link road in the town centre would be a better option.

He said: “I think this would be an excellent opportunity to look at the system and see if there’s a better system than four lanes. When (the previous Tory administration) was persuaded (shared space) would be a good option, phase two would be to develop Central Drive as an alternative link road.

“They should look at the one-way system there and try to improve that as an access route, but it looks as is four lanes is the preferred option.”

Blackpool Council’s current level of debt is £106m, compared to a North West average of £202m.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the council, said: “Our level of borrowing is average among local authorities and has all been approved by the council’s Executive.

“It is not unusual in the slightest for council to prudentially borrow when a scheme is self financing over a number of years.

“The council budget, including the level of debt, is available for everyone to see on the council website.”

He added: “Coun Williams is making suggestions about decisions that have not even been made yet.

“In May we will decide the future of the free breakfast scheme and as I have already said earlier this week no decision will be made on the Promenade until we speak to the community.

“We be letting people know how much each options cost and how we would look to fund it.”

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