Funds plea to get people in saddles

Blackpool's hire a bike scheme.

Blackpool's hire a bike scheme.

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SPONSORS are being sought to help save a flagship council scheme aimed at getting more people out and about on their bikes.

Town Hall chiefs discussed the future of the hire-a-bike scheme in a meeting of Blackpool Council’s executive.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport, said he hoped to work with local businesses who would sponsor the scheme.

Steve Pye, chairman of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, says he is in favour of helping the scheme find its feet again.

He added: “I’m supportive of it and we’re looking at ways of doing something about it, but I think there’s going to have to be a few people round the table with a couple of ideas.

“They were looking at some form of advertising on some of the shelters to help fund it.”

However, Mr Pye believes there needs to be some negotiations between businesses and the council over how much firms should be expected to pay for sponsorship.

He said: “Personally I can’t see how it’ll be viable as the proposal currently stands and I can’t see anybody putting money into it.

“We’re exploring ways of doing it but it’s got to be cost effective and it’s got to be practical.”

It is hoped the scheme will return at around Easter time, provided funding can be found.

Government cuts forced the council to axe its £75,000 subsidy for the project, and a report into the scheme was put to the executive at the meeting.

The scheme has been suspended since November due to a lack of use during the winter months making it not viable for the bikes to keep running.

The report recommended the council continues to seek sponsorship to raise additional income and support the scheme.

However, the report stressed any sponsorship should be billed as ‘Blackpool’s bikes sponsored by...’

Coun Jackson recommended the report to the executive.

He said: “Obviously the council is committed to keeping the Hire A Bike scheme going as long as we can. At the moment it’s been withdrawn to give the bikes some tender loving care because they need a bit of it, but it’ll be relaunched around the summertime.

“We’re hoping sponsors might come in and businesses come in to support the scheme.”

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