Fresh calls have been made for a licensing scheme for hotels in Blackpool amid fears new proposals about the way the town’s holiday areas are managed do not go far enough.
Hoteliers group StayBlackpool has put forward the idea in response to consultation by Blackpool Council as part of a review of its planning policies.
Town hall chiefs are considering making it easier for guesthouses to be converted to residential use and say they would use other powers to ensure new homes are up to standard and are not poor quality bedsits.
But Claire Smith, presidents of StayBlackpool, says in a submission to the consultation that her members “are convinced” such a move will have a “detrimental effect”.
She says instead a Licence to Trade scheme would have a “positive impact on the quality of accommodation offered in the town and reduce the large numbers of poor providers who give Blackpool a bad name”.
The hoteliers group adds it is concerned particularly about the state of the holiday area surrounding the Winter Gardens which is earmarked for a new conference centre and already hosts global dance events.
Their submission adds: “The attendees are already critical of the state of the surrounding area of the facility and of the beggars, prostitutes and drug dealers that approach and often intimidate them whilst walking between the venue and the car parks.
“The local accommodation providers fear this will continue and be the ‘welcome’ received by the new conference attendees.”
StayBlackpool is also concerned about the length of time it takes to deal with problem properties due to legal processes to be gone through and court action to be concluded.
Ms Smith adds in the submission, representing the views of 150 hoteliers in the town: “In one known instance, it took eight years for a problem property to be closed by which time the damage had already been done.
“The surrounding good businesses had suffered years of anti-social behaviour from their neighbour’s tenants, the property had deteriorated to a state of near dereliction, there were uncontrollable rubbish issues, the list of problems were endless.”
The council is not proposing to change any of the holiday area boundaries, but is considering amendments to policies including new guidance to demonstrate whether a property is viable as a guesthouse or not.
A 2011 study recommended Blackpool needed to reduce the number of holiday accommodation providers by 400 in order to tackle over-supply of bed spaces and increase occupancy levels for viable businesses.
The council says it will use its planning powers to ensure properties which change use are of a good standard.
The consultation, which individual hoteliers have also responded to, closed this week.