Could culture help cast off ‘negative’ image of Blackpool to boost business?

Tram tracks are being laid in Talbot Road, Blackpool town centre (Picture: /@TramstoLytham/Twitter)
Tram tracks are being laid in Talbot Road, Blackpool town centre (Picture: /@TramstoLytham/Twitter)
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A ‘capital of culture’ bid could be part of future plans to tackle negative perceptions about Blackpool and overcome barriers to business investment.

Marketing Lancashire is considering the move according to a consultation which will be the foundation of a new strategy to raise the town’s economic profile.

Findings showed while the resort’s brand name is strong as a visitor destination, its reputation as a place to base a business is more uncertain.

This is despite a £1bn growth programme including the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, the tramway extension (pictured), the £25m new conference centre, electrification of the railway line and the construction of new hotels.

A meeting of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Prosperity Board heard a study has been carried out by consultants Mickledore on behalf of Blackpool Council to assess perceptions about the town’s economy. It found the most attractive assets to potential investors included good connectivity, cost effectiveness, the Enterprise Zone and the opportunities offered by the visitor economy.

Nigel Wilcock, managing director of Mickledore told the meeting: “Marketing Lancashire’s consideration to host a future capital of culture bid is an opportunity for Blackpool.”

But factors which might deter investors included the visual appearance of parts of the town, the perception of an ‘old fasioned’ seaside resort, social deprivation and the geographical distance from the central spine of the country.

But the report concluded there were specific strengths which could be targeted including the energy sector, food and drink, leisure and business and the further and higher education markets.

Nick Gerrard, programme director for growth and prosperity at Blackpool Council, said: “While an enormous amount of effort goes into marketing our visitor economy, what we are concerned about is the level to which all the economic activity going on is known about outside the Fylde coast and in the rest of the country.

“We have had a steering group involving members of the private sector and work has been done on marketing perceptions. What are the perceptions of Blackpool in relation to business investment?

“Recommendations can then be fed into a marketing strategy based on that focus of inward investment.”