Look At It This Way - October 10. 2014

GROUNDED Airport trolleys at Blackpool removed
GROUNDED Airport trolleys at Blackpool removed
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I’m thinking of seeking asylum in another town. One where they don’t wave goodbye to an historic airport with one hand and “prudentially” borrow £11.3m with the other ... for a new hotel in a resort with its share of good hotels, not-so-good hotels, budget hotels, downright bad hotels, and others fallen on harder times and taking in other town’s excesses and journalists wanting a quick hit on hotels from hell.

I’m also thinking of joining one of those knitting nannas groups. Mine would sit in front of a nice non-shale gas-fuelled fire and crochet black armbands to wear in memory of our airport.

Sadly, all the rhetoric of recent days has proved as empty as the air space is likely to be.

While talks to “save” the airport were still on, the aviation fuel supply was choked off – leaving planes still using the facility having to go elsewhere to refuel until someone did the decent thing and filled up anew. There’s nothing more certain to spell out the message to airlines. “Manchester Airport 58 miles. John Lennon Airport 64m.”

I’m rather surprised one of our more controversial pilots hasn’t taken to the skies with a creative banner, blasting those involved.

To add insult to injury, the low loaders arrived to cart the baggage carriers off the very day “talks with potential new owners” were said to be going on late into the afternoon – ahead of the airport death knell sounding at just before 7pm.

Imagine working there, hoping against hope that a new deal could be struck, and watching that happen.

How thoroughly demoralising for those 100 workers. It was depressing enough for me to arrive at a winter holiday resort only to see hotel staff packing sunchairs away and putting a cover over the heated swimming pool.

But at least we flew from and to Blackpool. And we didn’t have to stop to refuel like some long-haul Hercules or worry whether we would be wheeling our own cases back to what was left of the terminal and watching the tumbleweed blow past in the car parks. Or catching a bus back from Manchester.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Labour Party Conference and asked why the national assembly couldn’t, or wouldn’t, return to Blackpool. I was told the town needed a large hotel close to the conference base – such as Manchester’s Midland.Blackpool’s bought our conference centre, the Winter Gardens. Now it wants to build a four star hotel to lease to operators in the £220m Central Business District (Talbot Gateway of old) to facilitate conference delegates and corporate visitors.

Ideally arriving by train, because there’s no real bus station to speak of, and the airport will be closed.

And if that’s a bit tiring on their tootsies we’re spending £4.7m to link Blackpool North station to North Pier – by tram.

The theory is ... if we build it, others will rent it. Blue sky thinking is all very well – but this reminds me of Dumbo. I’d rather see red Jet2 aircraft flying above than white elephants below.

And, in what is definitely my last word on the subject, if there’s “prudential borrowing” to be done would it not be more, well, prudential to leave it until the future of The Site Formerly Known As Blackpool International Airport is resolved?

Just how far would an £11.3m investment go there? For the record, it cost Balfour Beatty £14m to buy the airport six years ago.

Good teachers provide a lifetime of inspiration

Kathleen Holmes. Barry Brigden. Charles Stockton. Richard Gillingham.

We never forget our school days. And we never forget the good teachers. The above worked at Montgomery High School, Bispham, when I was there in the ’60s and early ’70s.

They picked me up as an 11-plus failure, a kid who hadn’t been able to read until two years earlier, and laid the world out before me. They gave me skills I use to this day. They inspired me to read, then write – and then read some more. To this day, I am never without a book at my side.

They supported me – and my brothers –through the protracted process of our dad’s final illness and our first steps to further education.

They were there for me then – and now. I carry them in my heart.

And I don’t doubt for a moment that Monty still has great, inspirational teachers – who will be remembered for all the right reasons in years to come.

I wonder if we could say that of the Ofsted inspector who penned the latest damning report, which must have demoralised teachers and pupils alike?

By far the best comment on the issue came online – earlier this year – from a girl called Naomi who claimed to be a pupil there. She could spell too. Read it for yourself...