Boarded-up buildings cast a painful shadow
Blackpool hoteliers and business owners say the number of run-down empty buildings in the resort are causing a knock-on effect.
Break-ins, vandalism and visual pollution are just some of the problems caused by boarded-up houses and shops.
Council bosses say there is ‘no instant fix’ to the problem, as many of the owners of such run-down properties cannot be traced.
Linda Easson, who owns the Halifax Hotel on Albert Road, has operated next door to an abandoned house for eight years.
She said: “We have never seen the owners. Nobody has slept there, to my knowledge, in eight years.
“We do worry about fires. We know it has been broken into. My guests have heard people banging about in there. When it’s cold, like it is now, people are going to break in, and the first thing they’re going to do to keep warm is start a fire.
“It isn’t fair. I have been in Blackpool 19 years and it’s not nice to see a road like Albert Road in such disrepair.”
She added that her basement had been flooded over Christmas due to a fault in the abandoned building’s pipes.
She said: “The council came round and had to get United Utilities to turn the water off because they didn’t have the power to get inside.”
Central Blackpool Business Forum chairman Charlie Docherty, who works with both Blackpool Police and Blackpool Council to support Blackpool’s holiday zone, said: “If you have ever walked down the Albert Road, it is shocking. You wouldn’t want your guests on a nice summer’s day sitting next door to that.
“It only takes one bad apple to ruin things for the rest of us.” In February, Blackpool Council launched a £1m scheme designed to improve the appearance of the town centre.
Grants are available for up to 95 per cent of the total cost of renovation works on Deansgate, Edward Street, Topping Street, Talbot Road and Church Street.
But Mr Docherty said: “What we really want the council to do is get the owners of these properties and make them maintain them. That’s what we are asking them to help us do.”
Steve Lake, 61, who owns Munchy’s Cafe on Coronation Street, operates next door to the closed-down China Town Takeaway, and opposite former clothes shop Javids and adult store Heaven An Hell, which are also closed.
He said: “(China Town) has been shut for about three years. You talk to people and they all say the same thing. For smaller businesses like ours, we have never known it so bad.
“We have had our door and windows smashed twice last year.
“We have seen a downturn in our take-ins, and it’s not down to bad customers or bad food. People avoid the streets and go straight through to Houndshill. The holiday zone this time of year is dead.”
Glenview Hotel owner Liz Detraux lives just a few doors down from the boarded-up UK Nail Spa on Vance Road.
She said: “It’s the first thing people see when they get off the coaches and it looks horrible. If that’s the first thing people are seeing, I can only imagine what they are thinking.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “When issues are raised by businesses, these are tasked to an individual team and are tackled on a risk-based approach with an investigation starting instantly.
“The problem starts when we are unable to trace the owners of the properties as it means that there is no instant fix to tackling the problem.
“We have recently reformed the Problematic Empty Properties Group, which involves the police, fire service, My Blackpool Home, Blackpool Coastal Housing, and services from Blackpool Council including planning, public protection and housing enforcement. This group will work actively to bring empty homes that are causing a problem back into use.”