IT is Blackpool’s shopfront to the world. But as these pictures show – the resort’s controversial multi-million pound Promenade is already crumbling.
Although it is just 18 months since the shared space traffic scheme in front of Blackpool Tower opened, there are cracks in the carriageway, paving is missing, and in some areas the surface has sunk.
Drivers are already fed up with disruption while running repairs are carried out – and calls have been made for the whole thing to be ripped up and returned to the two lane carriageway which was there previously.
But town hall chiefs today said it would cost too much to make wholesale changes, and they will persevere with the £2.5m project.
Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for highways on Blackpool Council, told The Gazette: “I don’t think we would want to see asphalt on that stretch of the Promenade but obviously we have to look at these problems.
“I think it would ruin the aesthetics of that area, unless we were forced into a situation where we would have to change the whole scheme again.
“There have been calls for that, but I don’t know where we would get the funds from.”
Some of the damage had been caused because of heavy delivery lorries crossing parts of the Prom to reach venues from West Street.
John Donnellon, service director for the built environment on Blackpool Council, said the damaged area would be replaced and West Street closed off in order to solve the problem.
He said: “Most of the carriageway is holding up very well but we have had one or two specific problems.
“The crossing near West Street has been damaged due to delivery wagons turning onto it, so we are going to reinstate the crossing and close access, and the delivery vehicles can go around the other side.
“Utility companies have also done work but they will return to carry out repairs where asphalt has been made in order to reinstate the road properly.”
The cost of current repairs is being met from the £2.5m budget set aside for the scheme.
But taxi drivers are among those fed up with the state of the carriageway from New Bonny Street to Talbot Square.
Bill Lewtas, of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association, said a long term solution was needed as drivers were having to endure repeated hold-ups.
He said: “We are concerned about the continuing disruption the repairs will cause. The damage to the bricks is widespread and many of the cracks were evident soon after they were laid.
“I think eventually the council may have to accept these bricks are a mistake and replace them with asphalt.”
But Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “I think the Promenade in that area looks beautiful and it is not the council’s fault repairs have had to be made.
“But it is not good the traffic is being slowed down because the Prom is the road that connects north to south.”
Members of the public say the pot-holes are making the road dangerous. Tony Pettinger, 67, who lives on the Promenade, said: “Don’t get me started on it and how much it costs.
“It’s terrible, there’s no differentiation between the road and the pavement either.”
Tourist Jackie Marshall, 59, from Leeds, said she had tripped over broken up sections.
She said: “It’s dangerous and needs a properly maintained kerb. If children are walking here anything could happen.”
Alan Ormston, 68, of Lancaster Road, Garstang, added: “We were surprised at how many dents there were in it as we crossed it. We’re never sure what’s pavement and what’s road.”
His wife Hilary, 65, added: “It’s quite dangerous for older people and young children.”