Will it be Lights out in Blackpool for popular convoy?

The vans at The Illuminations
The vans at The Illuminations

Organisers of a cavalcade of decorated vans today warned they may not return to Blackpool after plans to parade through the Illuminations were scuppered by traffic congestion.

‘Vans with Lights’ should have seen more than 200 vehicles from all over the country driven in convoy along the Promenade.

Coun Fred Jackson

Coun Fred Jackson

But organisers say the event on Saturday October 14 ended in chaos when despite a request for traffic management from the council, the drivers were left to fend for themselves.

Organiser Anne-Marie Appleton said: “I had spoken to the council in March and they said there would be traffic management.

“The plan was we would meet at Starr Gate where traffic management would stack the vans and we could go out as a convoy.

“But that just didn’t happen and so the convoy was broken up, while some vans didn’t even take part at all.

“We had also paid £250 for public liability insurance so we could cross the tram tracks and park on either side of Central Pier, but there was no traffic management for that either.

“That was meant to give us chance to display the vans which the public like to see, as well as helping us raise money for charity.

“A lot of people were very upset about the situation and we may not come back next year.”

Council chiefs said they were aware of the situation but the priority was to ensure all visitors could enjoy the Illuminations.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for highways, said: “We were happy to welcome the convoy of vans which certainly add light, colour and sound to the Illuminations.

“Several traffic safety officers were in attendance on the night but as the event took place on one of the busiest weekends of the year, we could never guarantee the convoy could stick together as they were subject to traffic light signals.

“Our priority is to keep the traffic moving as much as possible and to ensure all members of the public can enjoy the Illuminations.

“We take road safety extremely seriously and would never provide assurances on something that we have no ability of delivering.

“We are unable to give any group priority over other visitors as the Illuminations are for everyone to enjoy.

“We are happy to have a meeting with the event organisers to manage expectations and discuss any future events.”

Despite the problems, the event raised £6,000 for the British Heart Foundation.