#GetBlackpoolBack campaign launches for all of us to get Blackpool on its feet again
Today the Gazette is calling for resort residents to join a campaign to get Blackpool back on its feet.
The #getblackpoolback campaign is being launched ahead of the first stage of the country coming out of lockdown with schools returning on Monday.
We are teaming up with Blackpool Council in asking residents to follow rules being introduced by the Government everyone can enjoy a fully-opened Blackpool on June 21.
Already dozens have backed the campaign and shared their thoughts on how important it is to get the resort up and running again - and what they are looking forward to.
Karen and Gary Pennington are the treasurer and chairman of the Friends of Highfield Park community group in South Shore and they are still recovering from the virus.
They are warning people that in order for normality to return people need to follow the rules seriously and they are looking forward to be socialising again and back out the open air to enjoy the summer.
Karen said: “We haven’t been able to do anything with the park or the community and that is what I am most looking forward to doing this year.
“Even the gardeners at the park who would have benefited from the work with their mental health, even if they could have gone on individually, but because of the circumstances the Council said no because of the risks that are involved.
“So while we did do a little bit of gardening in July, August and September, we then caught the virus in October and we haven’t done anything since so I am really missing being on the park and helping out.
“The other thing is still recovering from it all. We were actually down at the park this week with a potential funder hopefully for some new equipment and I was only out for just over an hour. By the time we went back to the car I was losing my balance, and that’s what happens with it all.
“I hope everyone can follow the rules so we can all start to enjoy the things we love doing in Blackpool.”
Gary added: “The main thing I am looking forward to is getting people back into Blackpool.
“I go cycling along the Prom and the amount of hotels that are boarded up is just so sad so to actually get Blackpool back on its feet again would be amazing.
“My only biggest concern is because there’s not going to be many foreign holidays this year Blackpool might actually become so mobbed you might not be able to still socially distance which we still need to do even if you have had the vaccine so I think it’s really, really important that we still get that message out to people that are coming to Blackpool as well, to come and enjoy themselves because that is what the town’s about but please keep your distance/
“For me personally, I just can’t wait to go and drink a pint of beer in an actual pub. I just cannot wait for that but also to be able to socialise with people again, because it’s been so long where we’ve been in lockdown and we’ve not been able to socialise in groups.
“Just to be able to go out and then be in a group again, obviously social distanced, and actually have a conversation that isn’t on Zoom or Skype but face to face we just all need it that.”
Blackpool town crier Barry McQueen said he is backing the campaign and is looking forward to ringing his crier’s bell again, something he has not been able to do since the Clap For Carers last year.
Barry said: “I haven’t worn my uniform or rang the bell coming up close to a year now and I do miss being the town’s crier dearly so it would be great to be able to do that again very soon.
“However the thing I miss the most is seeing all of Blackpool open. Seeing all the hotels shut is really terrible and I feel for all the people who are suffering at the moment across the town. I think it will be fantastic to see all the tourists coming back again and I think that if foreign holidays are not happening it will really help Blackpool.
“It might even rekindle some people’s love for the town because it is a fantastic place with fantastic people so seeing everyone out and about again will be super.” Barry, 74, said he has had to shield for most of the year and hopes that people will still take things seriously as the resort heads towards being open.
He said: “We are still in the pandemic and even though it is exciting to think it will soon be over, we all need to play our part in order for that to happen. I think social-distancing will still be important and if everyone, including the tourists, can do that we can then all be smiling again after the year we have had.”
Stay Blackpool boss Claire Smith, who runs the Number One South Beach Hotel on Harrowside said she misses noise more than anything. She said: “It may sound funny but I really have missed having some noise in the house and that is what I want back. I want guests in my house and the house filled with noise and laughter and chatter. The house has been so quiet with just my partner Mark and I rattling around.
“It’s also really important to get all of the visitors back and out in the sunshine. A sunny Blackpool Promenade with no visitors is a load of rubbish. We just want to get back some normality and lots of people will have different things they are looking forward to but Blackpool isn’t in the countryside, we don’t like the quiet, we want the noise and the bustle and the laughter and the smiley faces. That’s what I what I can’t wait to see and hear again.”
Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said the campaign focuses on all the things that residents have missed and shows how by working together as community we can get them back as soon as possible. She said: “This year has of course been like no other and we have all wondered when and how life will ever be the same again but through the magnificent efforts of residents following the lockdown rules and the vaccination programme there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve all got something that we’ve missed over the last year from having cup of tea with grandparents to watching Blackpool play at Bloomfield Road or just spending time with our family and friends.
“The most important thing is not to give up, we must continue to abide by the restrictions. We are so close to normality returning and we want to remind residents why continuing to follow the rules is so important.
“We’ve come so far and we have to keep going for a little while longer.”
Over the coming weeks there will be videos on the social media accounts of the council and community groups sharing the amazing efforts of residents during the last 12 months along with a reminder and clarification of the current rules.
Blackpool’s director of health Dr Arif Rajpura said the last thing the resort needs is being ‘put back in reverse gear’.
He said: “We’re now in a position where we’ve got the roadmap and the clear steps of what we all need to do. What we need residents to do is to keep on following all the rules and not stretching them at all.
“All of us have to take a very cautious approach as Covid has not disappeared yet. I think the June date of the wider society opening is an ambition and I think we hopefully can stay with that ambition, depending on how the Covid rates pan
“So it’s really important that we continue to do what we’re doing and we continue to comply with all the rules with each of the stages, otherwise we might jeopardise those steps and we might have to change those dates. I think it’s natural to be cautious but it’s also important that we approach this in a cautious way because we don’t want to go in reverse gear after the year Blackpool and everyone has had already. “
Residents are also expected to see the rollout of Covid marshals again and Dr Rajpura said they are just one of a number of interventions that will be in place to open the resort safely.
He said: “We had all our Covid marshals out when we were open last year during the summer and we’ve got the army of COVID marshals waiting and ready when Blackpool starts to reopen, both to advise individuals about the rules but also to go into businesses and advise businesses.