Jewels in the crown receive their reward

HERITAGE watchdogs have shown they bear no grudge against Blackpool Council by awarding the bulk of their annual accolades to local authority projects.

Referring to the controversy which has raged over the ripping out of historic Town Hall chairs, Blackpool Civic Trust chairman Elaine Smith admitted: "We did seem to find plenty to cause a fuss over in 2004!"

She added: "But we also give credit when it is due."

The Civic Trust and local authority crossed swords over the beautiful wooden seats in Committee Room A which were removed to make way for more accessible and modern furniture.

Proving they are not only interested in old buildings, the Civic Trust has named Blackpool's Central Mosque and the recently refurbished Solarium building in South Shore among this year's award winners.

Mrs Smith added: "The Civic Trust isn't only interested in past heritage, it is also interested in our future heritage and we find the regeneration plans for our town to be most exciting.

"We also feel that Blackpool is already heading in the right direction, shown by the fact that many of the awards are going to Blackpool Council projects."

Development

One showpiece development which secured an award was the building development joined on to the Town Hall itself.

Mrs Smith praised the new Customer First Centre in Corporation Street.

She said: "I never go past without marvelling at the difference it has made in the area. The windows with the etchings make it so light and airy and inside the carpet represents the sea and sands.

"I happened to go in with the Disability Officer for Lancashire and he was delighted with the care that had been taken with the colour schemes, making things discernable for the blind. He was so pleased with everything that he said he would be using it as an example to others – a compliment indeed coming from him."

As for the new lease of life given to the once-derelict Harrowside Solarium, reborn as the Solaris environmental and community centre on South Promenade, Mrs Smith said: "I consider it to be another jewel in Blackpool's crown."

Awards List

THE awards, all presented by Blackpool Mayor Coun Maxine Callow, went to:

n Westcliff Primary School extension

n Two extensions at Park School

n The new Palatine Library

n Customer First Centre at the Town Hall

n Solaris

n Central Mosque

n McCarthy & Stone Holroyd Court flats

n Windmill Housing Association

n St Bernadette's RC Primary School for recycling policy in classrooms

n Collegiate High School Sports College for planting 500 trees around their school