Vigilance plea after attacks

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

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Residents in Blackpool are being warned to be extra vigilant following recent terrorist attacks.

Councillors said the incident on Tuesday at Istanbul Airport in Turkey, where the death toll is now at least 43, showed tourist destinations were vulnerable.

Coun Simon Blackburn

Coun Simon Blackburn

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn told a meeting of the full council he wanted to: “Reflect back on the terrorist attack on Ataturk Airport only a few days after we stood outside on the town hall steps thinking about Denis and Elaine Thwaites who had been killed in Tunisia just the year before.

“As a tourist town we understand better than anyone else the impact of an event like this on the tourist trade, and this is a clear attempt by the terrorists to damage the tourist trade in Turkey which is hugely important.

“I’m sure everyone in this chamber would want to send their sympathies to the people most immediately affected by this but also to the tourist and hospitality trade in the country who will suffer as a result of this attack.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on the council, warned attacks could “happen anywhere”.

He said: “We are a holiday destination, we attract millions of people. We can’t think that we are immune to any target. We are a safe environment but I think we have to be vigilant that this can happen anywhere.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for resilient communities on the council, said people should report anything suspicious to the authorities in view of incidents including the gunning down of 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, America, earlier this month.

He added: “I represented the council at a vigil for people who lost their lives in Orlando.

“We have to be vigilant. If you suspect anything, please report it and we must work with every partner organisation to stamp out all forms of hatred.”

Coun Blackburn, who is part of the Local Government Association’s anti-terrorism task force, added: “We are in the process of looking at what all local authorities in the UK can do to make sure their areas are as protected as they can be, that people understand the risks around radicalism and how to put in place early intervention so people don’t get into that place to start with.”

Denis and Elaine Thwaites were both killed on June 26 last year by Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui. The gunman opened fire on the couple and other holidaymakers in Sousse, leaving 38 dead, including 30 Britons.

Staff in council buildings and offices in Blackpool held a minute’s silence on Monday in remembrance.