A MOVE to banish smokers from Blackpool’s parks looks unlikely to win legal backing.
The Department of Health (DoH) says it does not intend to introduce a smoking ban in open spaces – despite signs set for 13 parks and playing fields in Blackpool saying they are designated smoke free sites.
The Gazette exclusively revealed on Tuesday how NHS Blackpool and Blackpool Council had joined forces to erect the signs in a bid to persuade people not to light up.
However, a DoH spokeswoman said: “There are no plans to extend the law to cover outside areas. There are already signs in place around playgrounds.”
The initiative aims to protect children from the effects of smoke but cannot be legally enforced.
Tory councillor Paul Galley, a member of both the Friends of Anchorsholme Park and the Friends of East Pines Park, said the money spent on the signs should have been used elsewhere.
He said: “The fact the Department of Health at national level has no plans to introduce a ban speaks volumes for what they think it will achieve – which is not a lot.
“As a councillor I get lots of calls from people complaining about dog fouling but I have never had a call from someone saying they have a problem with smoking in the park.
“What they should be doing is looking at things like, sports coaching and gardening clubs aimed at encouraging healthy use of the parks.”
Roger Graham, vice-chairman of the Friends of Watson Road Park in South Shore, said there should have been more consultation before the signs were introduced.
He said: “It’s crazy. The council cannot enforce these rules and no-one is going to take any notice of them.
“Dog fouling is a bigger problem and that is more dangerous to children. The NHS is getting its priorities wrong.”
But Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, says the move will protect children on playgrounds and stop them being influenced by seeing adults smoking.