Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to bring better jobs and wages to Blackpool if his party gets into power at Westminster.
During a visit to the Fylde coast today (Friday) he said while tourism remained important, it was vital also to invest in areas such as engineering and manufacturing to return the resort to full prosperity.
He said: “Blackpool is a wonderful resort for people to visit.
“But most come on visits rather than stay over unless they are on conferences these days, and this changes the local economy. The levels of poverty in most seaside towns including Blackpool are truly horrendous and it is a question of low wages.”
Mr Corbyn said a three-pronged attack by Labour would include capital investment, improving rail links and setting a £10 living wage.
He said: “What a Labour government would do, is firstly have a North West regional investment bank, and we would be looking at the need for transport infrastructure improvements as well as capital investment in sustainable jobs and industries because there is a huge level of skill.
“Blackpool has been an industrial centre as well as a seaside resort in the past with very high quality engineering, and car manufacturing with TVR and so on in Blackpool.
“We would secondly look very heavily now at improving rail communications across the north.
“The cancellation of east - west electrification in the north is a very serious blow and that came since the election, by the government.
“We need that effective efficient rail network.
“And it’s also about wage levels, so a living wage of £10 an hour would make an enormous difference and save a lot of money because in-work benefits are often used to subsidise low wages.”
The Labour chief said “enormous cuts” to council budgets had hampered their ability to invest in communities, which had had a knock on effect on services such as housing and transport.
But he praised Blackpool for working hard to keep visitors returning.
Mr Corbyn said: “I have been coming to Blackpool all my life for visits, tours and conferences.
“Blackpool has worked very hard, as other seaside resorts have done, to hold special events and attract people over a long weekend.
“The leisure industry is a very important employer but often a very bad payer and that’s where the living wage comes in.”
He welcomed the addition of a new conference centre at the Winter Gardens, but quashed hopes Labour would return its main conference to the resort any time soon.
He said: “I love the Winter Gardens. I love the buzz around it and the sense of history is great, and well done on the new conference centre.
“The issue is the Labour party conference is so big and I’m not sure about the size capability. It’s not just the conference centre it’s the hotels that go with it.
“We are now a conference of many thousands of people.
“But we do have regional conferences here.”
Mr Corbyn addressed members of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) group, at a meeting held at Cleveleys Community Centre.
He promised to take on board their concerns and pledged to support their campaign to ensure women do not suffer hardship as a result of their state pension age changing from 60 to 66. Women told how inadequate communication about the changes had left many living on small occupational pensions, or being supported by husbands due to pressures such as illness and caring for relatives forcing them out of their jobs.