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THIS week’s local council elections were today labelled “the most important for a generation” by Blackpool’s Labour group leader.

And you can watch all the candidates make their case for your vote by clicking on the link to the right.

Simon Blackburn made the statement as political parties issued their last rallying cry to the electorate ahead of Thursday’s ballot box battle.

Speaking to The Gazette, representatives of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have all outlined why residents should vote for their parties.

Coun Blackburn says the Labour group know what the residents of Blackpool want over the next four years, having consulted them about issues over the last 12 months.

Issues

Residents have listed the state of the roads and the pavements as key issues they would like to change.

Coun Blackburn said: “You told us you are not happy with the amount of money taken out of the taxpayers system by senior council officers and councillors.

“We agree with you and resolve to put that right.

“Most importantly you told us you had issues with the roads, the traffic and the parking, and again we are right there with you.

“We think the current road system is a nightmare for road users.

“We need a better bus service as well and we need better parking.

“All of those things are what we, Blackpool Labour Party, are resolved to deliver for you.

“We believe we are on the cusp of a great victory here in Blackpool and we want as many people as possible to be a part of it.”

Peter Callow, leader of Blackpool Council and the ruling Conservative group, urged voters to give his party another four years in power so they can continue their work in Blackpool.

He said: “When we came to power we decided we would turn the town right round and that is what we have done in the four years we have been in power.

“Our idea was to tone down the stag and hens, curb their worst excesses and really set about with a zero tolerance attitude to under age sales to children, cap lap dancing establishments, which were just a front for prostitution.”

Coun Callow said the Conservatives had made the town into something “people can be proud of”.

He added: “We have secured the future of the tramways for another 100 years and that includes the heritage trams which will now be able to get up and down the Promenade.

“What we have actually done is change this town into something that people can be proud of and that is a family resort – and a family resort that it used to be - and we have done that with no increase in the council tax.”

The Liberal Democrats hold the third largest amount of seats in the current council.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats is Blackpool’s Douglas Green. He told The Gazette he fears the town’s traffic problems will not be resolved once the Promenade fully re-opens.

He said: “We are told once the Promenade is re-developed these grid-locks will go away.

“Unfortunately we cannot be sure that is correct because I have learned there is going to be traffic restrictions.

“I cannot anticipate we will be in a position of actually ensuring the roads will be free of traffic and the town will be free flowing again.”

Other parties standing for election on May 5 are UKIP and the Green Party.

Chairman of Blackpool Green Party Philip Mitchell says voters should take into account the controversial shale gas sites around the Fylde coast.

He said: “What people don’t realise often is that internationally, Blackpool is more famous for the very polluting and risky shale gas exploration.

“This is what we need to start looking at now because it’s something which is going to impact on communities, our health and potentially our drinking water.

“If you want to look to the future then you have to vote for green parties.”

Hamish Howitt will be representing UKIP in Bloomfield ward and says he is determined to fight for people in business including hoteliers and guest house owners.

He said: “We have got a Premiership football team but we are surrounded by Third World surroundings in Bloomfield and it’s an area full of deprivation.

“My pub is surrounded by empty hotels and not one is operating.

“It’s just a nightmare to try and run a business in my ward.”