New safety fears over Prom angling move

Mark Silcock (left) and fellow anglers on the Lower walk at Bispham, where vehicles are prohibited
Mark Silcock (left) and fellow anglers on the Lower walk at Bispham, where vehicles are prohibited
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A MOVE to allow anglers to take their vehicles on to Blackpool Promenade has sparked safety fears.

It is being claimed the decision to permit people to drive on to Lower Walk will endanger the resort’s £100m new tramway.

The Fylde’s fishing community has campaigned for two years to regain vehicle access after the council banned traffic in 2009 on safety grounds.

Now town hall chiefs have agreed to issue 200 permits for a trial period of a year, which will allow anglers to drive onto Lower Walk.

But it will mean crossing the tramway at Gynn Square or Red Bank Road.

Conservative group deputy leader Coun Tony Williams branded the decision “extremely dangerous” and accused the council of double standards by allowing anglers to cross the track while considering closing an established crossing at Lauderdale Avenue in Anshorsholme.

He said; “To gain access they will have to leave the main carriageway and cross over unmarked and open tramlines at a main intersection of the Promenade.

“This will cause tailbacks, extra congestion and an extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening exercise of crossing over busy tram lines at an unmarked and unapproved public access point.

“Other motorists may also think they can do the same and follow suit.

“Crossing over unguarded open tram lines is a potential danger to tram drivers, passengers, pedestrians and the motorist. It will also seriously disrupt the tram service and its schedules.

“It is also a blatant contradiction of the stance on safety issues at the Lauderdale Crossing which council officers are insisting on closing on the grounds of safety.”

But the council said the permits carried strict conditions about safety when it came to crossing the tracks.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport on Blackpool Council, said: “There are specific terms and conditions in place with this permit which require that drivers accessing Lower Walk must take care when crossing the tram tracks and must give way to all trams, cyclists and pedestrians in order to maintain everybody’s safety.”

He added: “After listening to feedback from local residents, we will now be providing a three-hour parking permit that allows anglers to park their vehicles on the lower section of the Promenade whilst fishing.

“A limited number of these permits will be issued over a trial period from August 2011 to August 2012.”

Mark Silcock, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Sea Angling Association, said: “My aim from day one was to put back in place a system that had proved successful.

“There has never been any issues over health and safety.

“In fact, the anglers have been the eyes and ears of the coastguard, helping save lives if anything. The council scheme that can only be good for Blackpool.”

Ten per cent of the new permits are being reserved for blue badge holders. The permit costs £30, or £10 for blue badge holders and people can apply by calling (01253) 476429.

A previous report by members of the council’s tourism and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee had recommended a permit system using barriers and swipe cards, but that was rejected by the then Tory-controlled executive because it would have cost £63,000.

The council had said seven barriers would be needed to prevent unauthorised access to Lower Walk.