A LANDLORD claims his neighbourhood has been abandoned by the council – and is being turned into a ghetto due to neglect.
Hamish Howitt, licensee at the Happy Scots Bar in Rigby Road, said his area – once populated by vibrant hotels and pubs – has been allowed to descend into a dilapidated and run-down state, referred to as ‘Beirut’ by taxi drivers.
On his block alone, there are five closed hotels, most of which have been burgled and used by squatters.
Mr Howitt said: “This is the heart of Blackpool. This is where tourists walk and this is what they see. It’s like a ghetto.
“Where is the investment from the council? I’m left on my own. The taxi drivers call it Beirut.
“I’ve invested more than £1m over 14 years in the business but what has the council given me back?
“They want more families to come but who would want to come down here now?
“You would think the council would board up these places.
“All the money is getting spent in the town centre. ”
Last weekend, Mr Howitt was forced to close his pub after metal thieves stole vital cellar cooling fans from the outside of his premises.
The neighbouring Chilton Hotel has had all of its leading stolen; the former Kinross Hotel has collapsed floors after metal thieves stole its heating system and water poured through the building; the New Embassy Hotel was repossessed and has been broken into several times, and the Malberry across the road has also been broken into, according to police.
A Blackpool Council spokeswoman said: “We can understand the frustration of businesses in this area.
“Unfortunately when private businesses close for whatever reason they can quickly fall into disrepair.
“Where possible we try to ensure the owners make efforts to keep it secure so it doesn’t become an eyesore.
“The steps that have been taken to regenerate Blackpool and bring private investment into town hopefully will have a knock on effect and encourage regeneration in other areas.”
A Blackpool Police spokesman added: “We are aware of the thefts that have taken place and are investigating.
“We are working very closely with the council and landlords to get empty properties boarded up and reduce the risk of people breaking in to steal metal.
“Officers are also contacting individuals who legally deal in scrap to make sure they recognise when people are selling stolen goods.”