cOME in number 114884 your time is up?
No, this is just the beginning of a brand new local charity’s journey.
Welcome to Rossall Beach Residents and Community Association – the charity.
Amazingly it’s taken just four years for the association to reach this milestone.
Not that the charity – registered number 114884 – set out to find it in the first place.
They started out as a few neighbours chatting about the problems on their doorstep.
Their’s was the stretch of Promenade between the Cleveleys and Fleetwood.
No brand new sea defences or tasteful bits of art placed strategically here – just a lot of dog dirt, and kids misbehaving, and courting (or otherwise...) couples cavorting and so on.
They got a bit sick of being the seaside Cinderella – although it has to be said Norbreck could now give them a run for their money – so joined forces.
Wyre Council started to listen to them. Better still, it started to act. And when the council couldn’t help, the residents got stuck into it themselves.
As lessons in true localism go this has to be one of the best.
For here’s a group of locals who muck in together to clean up their stretch of beach, encourage local schools to do the same or spread the word about dog fouling and other issues, and who also – even more importantly – socialise while fund-raising for further projects.
In fact, there’s nothing to stop any group of neighbours in any street in Blackpool and the Fylde doing much the same.
No time? Well, consider the example of Jane Littlewood. She’s the guiding light of Cleveleys-based creative graphic design and photography business Rabbit Droppings which publishes online guides to Fleetwood, Cleveleys, Poulton, Blackpool, St Annes, Lytham – and the Fylde coast.
In other words, she’s busy. And a businesswoman. But you know the adage – if you want to get things done ask a busy woman? It could have been invented for Jane. Not that she founded the association, she came to a meeting, got interested, knew it could use her natural networking skills, and got hooked.
Under her leadership it’s become a force with which to be reckoned.
Ask Dr Rob Keirle, pollution programme manager for the Marine Conservation Agency, who’s been on the team’s beach cleans and turned up to give them another pep talk this week at their annual meeting at Cleveleys Community Centre – which most still call the Frank Townend Centre.
“I can honestly say in all my travels around the country I have seldom come across a residents’ association so singularly focused as this one – or as passionate in their commitment to change the community for the better,” he declares.
And given that he’s just torn a strip out of Blackpool Council for failing to do more to clean up its beach act, Rob is just hoping other residents along the local stretch of coastline get the message too.
“Take it from me – this is the dirtiest stretch of coastline in the country. It is sickeningly so.”
On that basis it’s heartening to see the group has already positioned smart new information boards on the Promenade alerting locals to the natural wonders found there and how to preserve or enhance them.
It’s heartening, too, to see local children have got the message – members of the association visiting schools to spread the word. Various posters, designed by children, plead “please pick up your poo”.
It’s heartening to see Wyre councillors at the annual meeting. Several of them. Including David Walmsley, for Jubilee ward, who says: “This is all about partnership. The council really values the support and involvement of organisations such as this.”
And frankly there isn’t an organisation such as this, says Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.
He’s supported the association since it started four years ago – part of his own “journey” from candidate to MP.
“If we could clone Jane in every constituency the country would be a much better place,” he says. “I’m in awe of them all.”
In fact, as Jane takes pains to stress, the new look Rossall Beach and Residents’ Association charity is the sum total of its parts.
It plays to its strengths. Just look at the pictures. People, of all ages, out in all weathers, come hell, hail and high water, to either woo Britain in Bloom judges – and it takes some effort to grow anything in this sandblasted area – or tempt potential sponsors into funding further endeavours.
Cake bakes, walks, clean ups, planting, fairs, specialist police exercises, more – it shows what is possible when people drop their own defences and start to defend their neighbourhood.
And it’s a charity that very definitely begins at home. “This is just the beginning,” says MP Maynard. “The best is yet to come.”