IN 2007 promoter Tony Jo and I discussed raising funds to have a statue made of Charlie Cairoli.
We had several meetings with council directors, Charlie Jnr and Graham Ibbeson the sculptor.
The-then chief executive was against having the statue on the Prom as it would conflict with the Comedy Carpet and a site on Bank Hey Street was also dismissed.
The idea was taken to the executive who turned down a request for £20,000 to kick start the campaign. One of our financial backers was taken ill and with the failure to secure a promenade site the project was shelved.
In 2009 I called Brian Nicholson who had been artistic director at the Tower Circus during Charlie’s time.
Brian had made a statue of Charlie which was standing in Brian’s garden. We communicated for three years trying to find a home for ‘Charlie’.
I spoke to marketing at Merlin offering them a chance to put ‘Charlie ‘back in the Circus. After several months waiting for a response they said no thanks. The owners of North Pier then agreed to give Charlie a home. Brian and I thought this would be perfect but after visiting the pier we felt the space offered was not totally suitable.
We were running out of options and Brian and I made a pact that if I could find a suitable spot for Charlie that we could agree on he would donate his statue to Blackpool.
In late 2012 I went back to the Director of Leisure Services. In 2009 I had asked the director if he could find a spot for a Charlie in Stanley Park. He felt at that time we wouldn’t get planning permission and the Friends of Stanley Park may not support the idea.
This time when I contacted him I confirmed the artist was donating the statue and urged him again to inform the Friends of The Park and ask for their help. This was September 2012 and it was the first time anyone other than Brain Nicholson and myself knew about the statue.
I have been contacted by dozens of people and supporters who want to see Charlie on the Promenade. That would be wonderful and while I think the Friends of the Park for their help I would most certainly support any action that would get Charlie ‘Back Home on the Prom.
COUN TONY WILLIAMS
On March 4 the council website announced a statue of Charlie Cairoli was to be placed in Stanley Park Rose Garden, but interestingly the council had applied to itself for planning application some three weeks earlier on February 15.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture was quoted as saying: “I’m delighted we are so close to properly commemorating one of Blackpool’s true legends.”
I and clearly many others think “properly commemorating” would be on a site somewhere near the Tower or even in it, not tucked away in a little-used area in the park. Yet we haven’t heard of any logical reason for this by the council or Merlin, who, incidentally, have removed most of the Cairoli memorabilia from the Tower.
It seems the majority public opinion is again being ignored and words used to try and justify the current position prior to the planning application decision being taken.
Strangely, in Gazette letters (Monday March 11), Elaine Smith goes out of her way to make the point it is not costing the council anything, but there has been no mention that the original parties long before Elaine Smith or Graham Cain became involved in this project had apparently asked for a Promenade position and were turned down by the previous chief executive as not being wanted near the Comedy Carpet.
Now in just seven days it is reported permission has been given for four statues to commemorate the emergency services at Gynn Square, all very strange. I would have thought that by now we would have been given some good indication of whether Merlin are making much of a contribution to the council coffers. The silence is a bit worrying.
Cherry Tree Road
AN iconic statue of Eric Morecambe on Morecambe Promenade - naturally. Laurel and Hardy in Workington town centre - of course. George Formby in Douglas Isle of Man tourist centre - makes sense.
Charlie Cairoli - Stanley Park - eh? - you’re having a laugh!