Benefits by the sea
The TV programme ‘Benefits By The Sea’ broadcast from Blackpool would certainly have a profound negative impact on tourism, and potentially deflate commercial and residential property prices and hinder private and corporate investment.
I can speak with an open mind about this programme, and I am pleased to say that we at The Galleon Bar and Coffee Shop refused an offer to take part in the filming.
It was my view that the programme makers were simply interested in showing the vulnerability of benefit claimants, and the less desirable reasons for moving to the seaside on the dole.
It is well recognised that several seaside towns have fallen on hard times and attracted the benefit culture from other regions.
Equally, there are some people, through no fault of their own, who have been made redundant, or find it difficult to find sustainable employment in 2014.
We offered the programme makers the idea of encouraging one of our back-to-work workshop sessions, filming individuals putting together a CV – they were not interested.
The danger with programmes of this kind is that, once you sign the filming permission disclaimer form, you are placed in a very disadvantaged position, as you are then at the liberty of the programme editor.
While we accept that the town has its fair share of unemployed and problematic families, the resort has also turned a corner, and there is a growing sense of optimism.
Some say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but most right-minded decent folk would argue that a bad name spreads faster than a good one.
Let’s maintain our dignity; I would suggest that we all back off from comments about the Benefits Britain programme.
The more we are up in arms about it, the more credibility we give it.
The company behind this programme say it will feature larger-than-life characters, but I’ll bet they are transients as opposed to local people.
We have a huge transient population in Blackpool, a lot more than we should have for a town our size, but if you are long-term unemployed, you might as well be somewhere there is plenty going on.
At least there is something to do, and this is the crux of the matter.
So I say again, lift us above this programme, no comment is good, however it is only fair if Channel 5 are going to air the show, that Channel 5 offers Blackpool time to rebuke all the negativity arising from the programme.
I am a transient of over 30 years standing, and have never once in all that time regretted my move here, to work I might add.
Include us in talks
As the owners of a property directly behind these hotels (‘Forgotten Blackpool’ Gazette, November 11), we have been involved in the fate of the hotels on South Promenade since 2009.
The residents of Clifton Drive would be very pleased to see the redevelopment of these buildings, but within a scale fitting to the area, not the 14-storey buildings that were originally proposed.
As it would be, perhaps, the largest redevelopment in the area, we do feel the residents should be included at the beginning of any talks, and not kept in the dark until it reaches the stage of planning permission, which is what has happened in the past.
Paul and Margaret Harrison
Letters from the front
How does it go, Wilfred Owen’s mordant vale of contempt, the quote from Horace (Note: ‘Va-lay’ Latin for Goodbye).
That recalls the trials of ancient Rome and reminds us of the futility of war: “The Lie – that sweet it is to die...”
Few soldiers chose to sacrifice themselves for king and country, but thousands had life stolen from them, not volunteering, but by regimental norms and loyalty to comradeship, obliged to stand or fall.
Families remember. Parental pride for an eldest son, uniformed, forever. Sepia treasured in that sideboard photo.
Another shows him on his last leave home. Tenderly held for those many years his letter from the Front, maternally teared, its envelope always fresh, those little words ‘Love you, Mum’ and ‘See you soon’. But sadly, no. ‘Missing In action” coldly told the War Department’s tale and left her with a lifetime’s reading.
Those pencilled lines, her boy’s last words to home, Frank’s body, pulverised, was never found.
His brother, Billy, shell-shocked, gassed and invalided out, never to work again, shaking always. His youthful body wasted into advanced old age.
Their Regiment of Pals had promised much for honour, glory and their town’s respect.
But dreams were nightmares in far Flanders’ sludge, with flesh and bones and spirits cruelly wrecked.