Blackpool and Fylde Coast review of the year: September to December
News and events that made the headlines in 2017.
INTERGALACTIC LIGHT FANTASTIC
Blackpool boldly went where no switch-on had gone before with a sci-fi fantasy special.
The switch-on honour fell to Diversity star Ashley Banjo and his crew - with a little inter-galactic help.
When they blew a fuse with an electric set, they had some assistance from Captain Gabrial Lorca, from new Netflix series Star Trek Discovery played by Harry Potter star, Jason Isaacs.
Firing a laser beam to the top of the Tower, the area watched on as power was gradually restored to the area.
GORILLA THRILLER FOR ZOO
The world’s dwindling population of western lowland gorillas was given an adorable boost with the birth of a baby on the Fylde coast.
The tiny ape was born in the early hours of Tuesday September 5 at Blackpool Zoo, with the attraction announcing the youngster’s ‘natural and uncomplicated arrival’ three days later.
It meant the attraction now had six of the critically endangered animals, whose numbers in the wild was thought to stand at just 100,000.
The little male gorilla was named Makari by the zoo’s social media following.
RESORT’S £1.4BN TOURISM BOOST
Tourism was worth £1.44bn to Blackpool’s economy in 2016, new figures showed.
More than 18m people visited the resort in 2016 - an increase of 1m compared to the previous year, worth an extra £80m to the town.
The figures, revealed in September 2017 as part of the resort’s latest economic impact study, also showed the number of tourism jobs had risen by 486 to 24,435 between 2015 and 2016.
GAS BLAST WRECKS HOUSE
A man and a woman had to be freed from rubble by firefighters after a massive gas explosion blew a hole through the back of a guest house close to Blackpool town centre.
The pair were trapped after the blast at about 5.55pm on Saturday in Charles Street.
The blast inside the three-storey terraced house rocked the area, with neighbours fearing a bomb had gone off.
PRINCE CHARMING ON COAST
Prince Harry was labelled ‘Prince Charming’ when he visited the Fylde coast.
The Prince charmed staff at Veterans UK and thanked them for their ‘amazing’ work during his visit.
His visit to the Veterans UK base in Nor cross marked the 25th anniversary of its 24 hour helpline service, which provides support for ex-servicemen and women and their families.
During the visit, he met management and staff, including listening into a live pensions inquiry call alongside a helpline adviser.
INTREPID TENORS’ RECORD BID
Singing stars Alfie Boe and Michael Ball used Blackpool as their launchpad for a record-breaking mission.
The duo marked the release of their second album, Together Again, by racing to five HMV stores across the UK, starting with an early morning call into Blackpool. After meeting fans - some of whom had stared queueing at 7am - in the resort’s Bank Hey Street store, they dashed to Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham before taking a helicopter into London.
‘BOTTOM OF PILE SCHOOL’ RISES TO TOP
A Blackpool school went from the ‘bottom of the pile’ to being widely praised for turning its fortunes around.
Unity Academy in North Shore, which was on the brink of special measures just four years before, was now rated as one of only two ‘good’ high schools in the resort.Headteacher Stephen Cooke said: “It’s massive. We had staff in tears.”
QUESTIONS OVER NEW £27.1M FLOOD DEFENCES
The £27.1 million sea defence at Anchorsholme was officially opened - amid claims it was already in need of significant repair work.
While the Environment Agency’s chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd said the new flood defence would ‘protect nearly 5,000 homes and businesses’, others said wonky slabs - which had come away from the existing sea wall at Cleveleys -had left builders scratching their heads. Contractor Balfour Beatty pledged to put the problem right.
PENSIONER ATTACKED BY SEAGULLS
An ex-coal miner was attacked by a flock of seagulls - who stole his Pound Bakery steak pie and left him with a two inch gash on the side of his head.
Samuel Spencer, 81, said he was left with blood pouring down his face after the birdy blitzkrieg and wanted signs posting warning people in Cleveleys they could be the next target. Wyre Council had previously revealed plans to make feeding the birds an offence in the borough after a surge of attacks but Mr Spencer, of Thornton, said signs were needed too.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF PROM CLOSURE
Blackpool Promenade was to close for up to six weeks at Talbot Square while work to extend the tramway started, it was announced.
Motorists were to be diverted around the town centre via Cookson Street.
The work was necessary to relocate utility pipes in preparation for the £21m extension of the tram tracks up Talbot Road from North Pier to North Station.
But business operators reacted angrily to news of the disruption before Christmas.
CORBYN FEVER AT LABOUR CONFERENCE
A North West Labour Conference was staged at Blackpool’s Hilton Hotel, prompting hopes that the resort could win back the national party conferences.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was presented with an I Love Blackpool T-shirt, was the star of the show.
The event was hailed as a resounding success for the resort.
OYSTONS BILLED FOR £31.27m
A court ruling decreed that Blackpool FC owners, the Oystons, must pay their one-time ally but now courtroom adversary, Valeri Belokon, the sum of £31.27m.
The staggering court order brought a conclusion to months of legal battling between the two sides in the unusual scenario of club directors pitted against each other.
Justice Marcus Smith found in favour of Mr Belokon after the Latvian pursued a claim against the Oystons for ‘unfair prejuduice’.
AMAZING YEAR FOR OLLIE
It was an amazing year for young Ollie Anderson who received a new heart in a life-saving operation.
In the 12 months since surgeons gave him a new lease of life in a dramatic organ swap op, the 12-year-old has raised more than £14,500 for the hospitals which
kept him alive.
And Ollie, from Thornton, was celebrating after being invited to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Switzerland.
£10K INSURANCE QUOTE PUTS BRAKES ON FIRM
Sky-high vehicle insurance rates were bringing a Lancashire firm’s expansion plans screeching to a halt, a young business owner has claimed.
Entrepreneur Josh Skorczewski said he has been quoted premiums of more than £10,000, pricing him out of driving for his own company.
The 21-year-old and his similarly aged business partners at Advantage Productions UK fear the firm may have hit a glass ceilingthrough no fault of their own.
HEART OF GOLD
A boy born with half a heart was making up for lost time – thanks to his footballing hero.
Wilfie Horsfall, four, has just finished his first term at Hawes Side Primary School after spending large parts of his young life in hospital undergoing surgery.
He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome – but with the support of Fleetwood Town footballer Bobby Grant he has bounced back to health to enjoy school with his classmates.
WONDERFUL SUPPORT FROM COMMUNITY
The family of Edward Dee, still grieving just over a year on from the sudden loss of the 10-year-old to meningitis, thanked people for their amazing support
They revealed they have been thoroughly heartened by the way the community has rallied round to raise thousands of pounds in Edward’s name to aid research into the disease.
Over the last 12 months, more than £65,000 has been generated for the Edward Dee Forever fund for Meningitis Now.