MONTGOMERY’S GREAT SHOW
At a time when a number of Blackpool schools have come in for criticism, I was delighted to be in the audience for Montgomery High School’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.
The school has a marvellous tradition of presenting major musicals, stretching back more than 20 years to when TV personality and current Coronation Street actress, Hayley Tammadon played a lead in Oliver.
She was followed a few years later when Mark Wilshire, as well as starring in school productions, took a lead part in Goosebumps.
That was alongside Russ Abbott in the seasonal run at the Opera House.
Mark has gone on to a career, touring with musicals and appearing in the West End.
In fact the last time the school staged Little Shop of Horrors, one of the leads was Richard Neild, who went on to a career in professional theatre.
Now retired, but having taught at Montgomery for more than 40 years, I am always delighted to hear of the successes of past and present pupils.
I am sure that we will hear more of the talents displayed on stage this week and I would like to congratulate producer, head of drama, Jonathan Dickson and his team.
The pupils coped so well with the vocal dexterity and American accents, which added so much to the performance.
Above all, the sheer enjoyment and good teamwork displayed by all the cast was so apparent.
Whilst no one would argue with the importance of academic rigour, and the school has certainly pursued that end very successfully over the years, a balanced education is also desirable.
Sporting and arts activities have always featured strongly at Montgomery.
Only recently the school was successful in the Blackpool Schools Young Musician of the Year competition for the third successive year.
The sports teams and individual competitors have also enjoyed much success.
Such achievements do much to lift the spirits of staff and pupils, as together they aim to hit those all important academic and exam targets.
The headline of ‘Blackpool Back in Work’ (Gazette, March 20) only includes those claiming Job Seekers Allowance disguising the reality of actually increasing unemployment, endemic underemployment, plummeting wages, and a punitive DWP sanctions regime removing thousands off the benefit claimant figures altogether and into severe poverty.
According to the House of Commons Library when people looking for work on other benefits are factored in, unemployment in Blackpool is still increasing.
With 35 more people unemployed in Blackpool South in February than in January, and a small increase in Blackpool North and Cleveleys too.
They also show that unemployment has increased by 12,780 across the country and, most shockingly, almost 40 per cent of these newly unemployed people are based in our region.
The Fylde has been hit particularly hard by huge cuts to public sector employment causing at least a million job losses nationally since 2010.
These were well paid, secure, and permanent jobs.
Most of the new jobs are insecure, poorly paid, zero hour’s contracts, or fake self-employment leaving many reliant on in-work benefits and in some cases foodbanks.
Ignore the ministerial hype and distortion and ask yourself a question; are you better off than you were five years ago?
For most of us the answer is no. Our country needs a major change and fortunately we will get a chance for that on May the 7.
Blackpool Against Cuts
PLYMOUTH ROAD LIGHTS
I am a regular user of Plymouth Road, and have to agree with other readers the traffic has moved more quickly without the traffic lights.
But I have it on very good authority that without the traffic lights, at busy times the road becomes extremely difficult for schoolchildren to cross.
While the council has carried out an experiment which proved successful, owing to selfish drivers the lights have had to be reinstalled.
A solution to the problem is being sought, but because of the complexity of the situation, part-time lights are not the answer.
TRIP ADVISOR AWARD
It’s good to see Blackpool feature in Trip Advisor’s top 10 best rated destinations (Gazette, March 25).
Lots of people now check hotels out on Trip Advisor before booking their holidays, and I think it is helping drive up standards.
I know there can be some false write-ups on there, but most are genuine, and if there a lot of reviews saying the same thing you know they can be pretty much relied on.