A passionate group of resort high-flyers today unveiled their blueprint to help Blackpool blossom – and threw down the gauntlet to the Government to back them.
The massive masterplan is aiming to transform the town targeting better homes, new jobs, improved health and ending the resort’s brain drain, as well as improving the town’s reputation.
It wants to grow Blackpool’s economy by £1bn by 2030 and create and safeguard 10,000 jobs.
Key people – with influence in London and in the Government – have joined forces to spearhead the vision, which has been heavily trailed and supported by The Gazette in recent months.
The 2030 prospectus is launched today by the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership, which is made up of people from the private, public and voluntary sector including Merlin Entertainments, Beaverbrooks, Danbro, Big Lottery, Blackpool Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
Crucially, it also includes Blackpool-born individuals who have excelled in business – people who can have the influence to make it happen in Government and in the south.
They want the Government to support the ambition to develop Blackpool’s economy and tackle deprivation – and make Blackpool a contender to be the second Town Deal, after Greater Grimsby which was announced in July.
The group includes former Elmslie Girls School pupils Christine Hodgson, chairman of Capgemini UK PLC, and Carrie Longton, who is one of the founder’s of online forum Mumsnet, which has 7.5m users and has been courted by successive Prime Ministers.
Christine Hodgson, chairman of the Blackpool Pride of Place partnership, said in an interview with The Gazette earlier this month: “It’s all about doing all we can the very best for Blackpool.
“We can’t wave a magic wand but there is a huge energy around the table and that aim is certainly achievable if we do all we can to encourage everyone to work together with that aim in mind.”
She added today: “We want people in and outside Blackpool to be proud of this special town.
“We have developed integrated solutions to tackling Blackpool’s social and physical problems which can only be delivered by a local partnership using the skills and resources of all sectors together with support from central government.”
WHAT ARE THEY FIGHTING FOR?
l Create 3,000 new quality homes to tackle the concentration of deprivation in inner Blackpool.
l Improve employment rates of Blackpool’s 16-25-year-olds through focus on health, wellbeing and work readiness.
l Transform national perceptions so Blackpool is seen as a “can do” vibrant place and as a destination for business investment.
l A plan to safeguard the long-term retention of civil service jobs within Blackpool town centre.
l Making the Fylde Coast a designated tourism zone as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
l Supporting businesses to consolidate growth within the Enterprise Zones by increasing the deadline for business rates relief and capital allowances to 2030.
l Investment to complete the train/tram loop and enhance the South Fylde line service to improve transport links.
l A Government-created taskforce to review and improve mental health provisions on the Fylde Coast and extend the opportunity area programme to 2030.
l Ensure that the Government Shared Prosperity Fund is flexible enough to support these ambitions, including investment in the visitor-related economy and physical transformation of the town.
WHO IS BEHIND IT?
It is being organised by the Blackpool Pride of Place partnership, which is a project of Business in the Community (BITC).
The Pride of Place is a business led partnership from of the private, public and voluntary sector including Merlin Entertainments, Beaverbrooks, Danbro, Big Lottery, Blackpool Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
Its aim is to bring big hitters together to help promote Blackpool to a wider audience in both business and the Government.
It said: “We want to build on the existing strengths of the town but create new business, employment, education, housing and recreation opportunities that re-energise and re-invigorate our offer to residents and visitors.”
WHAT DO THEY SAY?
Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This prospectus connects people, communities, business and Government to help make Blackpool the great place it deserves to be. “While we do not hide from the challenges in our town, we recognise there is more to be done to make the most of the opportunities.
“The partnership and town prospectus both draw on the strengths that Blackpool has to offer and acknowledge the great work that is already coming from the public, private and third sectors, and our communities.
“Our ambition is to kick-start new developments and partnerships to provide more opportunities for people and build on the town’s strong position as a quality tourism destination.”
Edwin Booth, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “We want Blackpool to be a town where people of all ages choose to live, work, thrive and build their futures. While this prospectus focuses on Blackpool, it acknowledges the town’s geographical position at the centre of the Fylde Coast and shared social challenges with Fleetwood.
“The opportunities we have highlighted paint a picture of a different town, building upon its best and with support and commitment from others to turn the tables in Blackpool’s favour.”
HOW ARE THE 10,000 JOBS MADE UP?
l 5,000 from the Enterprise Zone
l 4,000 in the Civil Service
l 1,000 from the Central Station quarter, details of which have yet to be announced.