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No change: Blackpool in the gutter

Angie Robinson, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, gets the blues in Blackpool

Published on October 16th 2007.

No change: Blackpool in the gutter

Having just visited two party conferences (Labour in Bournemouth and the Tories in Blackpool) a few thoughts have come to mind.

Firstly, the content is changing. Having done this sort of thing for the last decade its really struck me how the issues they are pushing and prioritising have changed. This year it was all about being green. Green, green, green – the theme was everywhere.

The irony being the amount of paper that gets handed out – skip loads. The recycling bins were overflowing, So were the plastic bottle bins – stuffed full with exorbitantly priced designer water empties, many of which were mine.

I went into a hotel coffee bar for a meeting and have never seen so many dead flies in one window. My cup of instant decaf (not available in some of the other venues) was served in a dirty cup which felt like it was pebble-dashed.

Bournemouth was all gentle breezes, gusty showers and hills to haul up. But at least it was clean and the staff in shops, cafes and hotels couldn’t have been more helpful.

That was in stark contrast to the Blackpool experience. How has this North West seaside town become such a dump? I must confess, it’s never been my favourite destination but it was ok when the kids were little for a quick trip to the lights.

I arrived at 7.15am on a Monday. I needed ten pound coins for the car park. I tried to get change by buying some sweets. The shopkeeper refused to serve me as he said I only really wanted change for the car park. Great start.

The streets were truly filthy – I’ll spare you the description – the alley ways full of rubbish being besieged by seagulls and most of the buildings were tatty and the paint flaking.

I went into a hotel coffee bar for a meeting and have never seen so many dead flies in one window. My cup of instant decaf (not available in some of the other venues) was served in a dirty cup which felt like it was pebble-dashed.

I spoke to loads of people who were complaining bitterly about their experience in hotels and lodgings. They talked about broken taps, faulty showers, shabby décor and genuinely dirty surroundings. I felt like trying to disguise my North West regional accent, I was so ashamed of the place.

It will take much, much more than a Supercasino to sort out Blackpool. Jeyes fluid, a wire brush and a few gallons of paint might be a starting point, but some real vision and some quick wins are vital.

I guess we all have a bit of a soft spot for our regional coastline and whilst I am pretty disgusted by the state of Blackpool, more than anything, I am deeply saddened.

It’s no wonder that the political conferences have now deserted the place – and have decided that the modern city centre location of Manchester is by far a better option.

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36 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

l mcnamaraOctober 16th 2007.

well you think blackpool is bad try rhyl!!! i was disgusted to see its a ghost town and the place has some lovley beaches just right for families and its dead ,what has happend to our seaside resorts?

KGCSOctober 16th 2007.

Hi tony t...I didn't intend to make it political, in fact I don't know who controls the council for sure. What I wanted to point out is that the kind of decay that has happened over the years may have been avoided with a better hand steering the ship.

reddersOctober 16th 2007.

to Old Bloke you've told us what's wrong. now tell me what YOU would do if you were Leader of the Council and where would you get your money from?

GordoOctober 16th 2007.


AnonymousOctober 16th 2007.

i took my daughter to blackpool last tuesday and i was shocked to see just how dirty it was. Even as we dodged across filthy, slimy pavements my 12 year old mentioned that there seemed to be more chip shops and rock shops than anything else - lucky she didnt notice the lapdancing club on the main street. I really felt sorry for the people of Blackpool who deserve to see their fantastic natural resources ( the sea and the beach) help them have a healthier ,happier life. i dont mean to sound patronising, as im sure if you live there, dont have to work in or visit the pleasure beach area and have plenty of money - its great.

ChannelleOctober 16th 2007.

Beautiful old- fashioned signage and typography and lovely old wooden window frames on the front of hotels is what makes Blackpool special and preserves the character of this town. We don't want disgusting Upvc window frames or doors on hotels-these are the very things that destroy the soul of any town. You obviously don't know anything about what makes a place special or anything about the patina of time. These architectural details are not Blackpool's problem- its problems derive from uncultured people spreading litter, yobbery and making hideous decisions about its appearance e.g. Ripping out anything with character and replacing it with revolting modern substitutes.

Eddy RheadOctober 16th 2007.

Oh for crying out loud! Stop being such a bunch of uptight snobs! Blackpool is Blackpool. So some of the cafes dont serve Mochaccino coffes and there are some working class people there making the place look untidy. Get over yourself. So Blackpool is cheap and tacky? Hold the front page!!!!!!! And it used to be so sophisticated aswell......not! I went the other weekend. The prom was heaving with families, people were enjoying themselves, the weather was beautiful, the beach was lovely, there is a lot of money being spent on the front (and quite wisely by the looks of it) and i had a great day. So some Tories and some poncey southern journos whinge about it? Good riddance to them i say. Blackpool - i love it!

PoddyOctober 16th 2007.

How many have been shot in Blackpool in the last six months,Also don't forget we who live in Blackpool have too put up with you lot, with your conferences, closing roads and having to pay, YES PAY, for the so called Privilege of having the party conferences, I for one will be glad to see the back of them, you lot in Manchester wont know what's hit you.Blackpool would be a far better place if everyone stayed away and left it to the locals,

daveOctober 16th 2007.

I agree with everything Trycky says...except the bit about America. In America the population wouldn't stoop to the pathetic binge drinking that the British do in our town centres, nobody would tolerate it over there. Most Americans would be very shocked to see the behaviour on the streets of Blackpool city centre on a Saturday night and in that sense, Manchester and most British cities are the same. The British have become degenerate in some ways...and don't anyone pretend otherwise.

DeeDeeOctober 16th 2007.

I cant believe some of the rubbish that comes out of people's mouth's. Yes Blackpool has it's faults but for the most part it is a fantastic place to go for a good day out of even for a cracking night out. I lived in Blackpool until I was 20 then moved to London what a mistake that was. At least you can walk the streets of Blackpool knowing you wont get shot or worse. Every place has its downfalls even Manchester. Part of Blackpool's charm is that it is quite tacky and its fun and light hearted. Not serious, uptight or pretentious. Its time people gave Blackpool a break and as for Mrs Robinson's remarks..she is a disgrace to the name Robinson.

AnonymousOctober 16th 2007.

There is nothin wrong with Blackpool iv lived and worked here for 5 year now and i love the place,its you tourists that come blackpool and wreck the place,and the residence have to clean it up and live with it,if u dont like it leasley then ****of back to were u came u misrable ****in bastrd.Blackpool is becoming better with the new college and sea front plus shopping centre and new lights,new travelodges.u just wait till this summer u wont be callin it a dump then u prick

tony tOctober 16th 2007.

lets not get political about blackpool its been a dump for as long as i can remember [35 years] and dirty, regardless of which bunch run the council, however on a lighter note the only good thing to come out of blackpool is the m55. I couldnt agree more with Angie Robinson aesthetically it is a cesspit from top to bottom in need of a "make over" and socially it seems to attract a lot of people who only go to blackpool to get drunk and fight.

CatOctober 16th 2007.

I hadn't been to Blackpool for about 10 years until last weekend. I took my son on a jolly day out there as a reward for him being a good boy for longer than 3 seconds consecutively, in the week preceding. I'll confess to a certain trepidation as I chugged up the M6. As a wee child I'd had many a marvellous day, perfecting my riding skills on Fylde's finest donkeys. Or burning off the candy floss calories, in Jungle Jims ball pool. Despite the fond memories though, what I also recalled (and was aware of even as a small child), was the overriding sense of grubbiness about the place. It's always looked like it needed a bloody good wash. If it were a person, It'd be Pete Doherty! As I drove into the resort it was as shabby looking as I'd remembered. Despite this, the boy and I had a fabulous day out. He ate his body weight in rock and discovered the joy of helter skelter and donkey rides. We also ambled on the beach for some sandcastle construction, which in contradiction to everywhere else was clean as a whistle. There's no denying that it's generally grubby but I still think it has a certain charm and a place in the leisure and tourism industry. Yes it's cleaner in Bournemouth. Yes you get a better class of hotel in Torquay. Yes the rollercoaster's are better at Alton Towers. But really, for a good day out and some tacky seaside fun it's got to be Blackpool. And so what if Mr Cameron and his merry band of men decide not to deign the resort with their presence in future. I never understood why all conference's weren't held in cities anyway? I'm quite sure the economy in Blackpool will be able to endure the loss.

daveOctober 16th 2007.

She's absolutely right. How much longer can Blackpool fall back on the 'tacky fun' way of promoting itself, and expect to get away with it? It's not so much tacky as nasty, and a totally dreary experience.

OldblokeOctober 16th 2007.

Well considering the local papers website Evening Gazette seems to be censoring messages posted in their forum, I thought I would post my comment here.Blackpool is a dump. I have lived here for 42 years and will be moving soon. I know first hand how much of a downhill road Blackpool is heading and has been heading for the past 10-15 years.The council does not seem interested in improving anything of relevance to it population. Just quick fixes all the time. First it was modernising the tram system (which never happened), then the Super Casino, which never happened and now its a new conference centre, which..... will never happen.There is no real investment in the town and what there is are bsuinesses directed a cheap tacky tourism gimmicks and employing immigrants on low wages.Its a joke, like the current and previous council. They just do not have a clue.When the leader of the current Council was asked by Northwest tonight TV, "how are you going to attract families back to the town", he had no answer. That says it all. No hope, no idea.

TRYCKYOctober 16th 2007.

I was born in Blackpool and have lived here most of my 58 years. When I was in my teens it was a happening place to be but with the advent of foreign holiday destinations in the 60's it was inevitable it would go into decline, as have all other UK seaside resorts.Yes the Seafront and Town centre are grubby, grimy and run down. Some of the accommodation is at best described as wanting upgrading. At weekends the town centre is a no go area, litter everywhere the stench of vomit and urine pervading the air mixing with the stale fat eminating from the fast food palaces, this is where the Stags and Hens rule strutting (staggering) their stuff. It certainly is not for family or any right minded consumption. People may blame an over indulgence in alcohol which may be true?, I like to have a good drink, but I would never dream of indulging in some of the sickening spectacles I have witnessed on the streets. I don't go into town anymore.HEALTH WARNING, FAMILIES STAY AWAY.The truth is it is a cultural thing.What is happening in Blackpool and many other towns and citys in the UK is Asymptomatic of what is happening to our culture, or lack of it, we are being over influanced by all things American we have lost the respect of our kids We British as a Nation have gone from being world leaders to a second rate Nation still clinging onto the notions of Empire. We are only fooling ourselves thinking WE ARE THE BEST?. We are not!!. We have lost pride in what it means to be British and I dont mean what is the outcome of our National football or cricket teams, although that also contibutes to the YOB CULTURE. We need to step back and have a long hard look at ourselves as people before it is to late. Blackpool is at a crossroad, it can carry on regardless in the belief things will improve or some mega casino will come along and bail them out, or it will sink even deeper into the abyss.A step in the right direction would be a little ZERO TOLERANCE, lock the yobs up overnight with a hefty fine. This may sound harsh but the you have to be crule to be kind sometimes. The 'Golden Mile' and a large portion of the town centre should be knocked down only saving the most worthy to be preserved this in turn may attract some futuristic investment allowing Blackpool to turn the corner. The local Council must deceide what sort of resort they want, they had a clearer vision in the 1800's when they built that 500 foot pile of scrap iron, at that time it was ininivitive, this is the sort of futuristic thinking we need to turn the corner. If we dont then the future is all downhill.

KGCSOctober 16th 2007.

Angie Robinson is 100% right. Days out to Blackpool were a favourite childhood treat for me and my brothers, but having been to Blackpool recently all I can say it will take one hell of a turnaround to make Blackpool great again.All this talk of investment, while well intended, does not approach the actual decay and general decline within this town.The people to blame are not the shady B&B landlords, not the gangs of stag and hen nights or the downright rough and ready stall holders... the real villians in all this are the complacent, inept and downright useless civil officials who did not seek or implement any long term investment for this once great town.In this case you can't reap what you sow, as nothing was ever sown in the first place!

HarryOctober 16th 2007.

Blackpool is finished. It existed as a spot for the Lancashire mill workers to holiday, along with pensioners on very cheap breaks during the winter. Today Benidorm does it all so much better. It is, as Angie rightly says, bloody filthy and a disgrace. Well said Angie.

LesleyOctober 16th 2007.

Depressing,dirty, drug ridden, foreign workers taking over that mostly cant talk or understand english, poor housing,dont get me started on the school's, dog mess ridden streets, smutty hen & stag parties.Oh yes blackpool is such a wonderfull place to live & bring up family........!!! NOT.

Loz robinsonOctober 16th 2007.

I had not visited Blackpool for about 7 years until last weekend as a treat for my baby to see the lights and sounds etc. We parked up behind the Pleasure Beach at 3.30pm and paid £4.50 (this was a Sunday).Nothing much has changed there, its so dated. There was only one cafe on the Pleasure Beach you could get a half decent coffee but all the chairs were tatty. I went to the toddlers area and again its just filthy, cramped and untidy with people smoking their heads off! Come the evening we began to take the stroll up the prom and I was trying to pinpoint just what it is that makes what used to be a fun place so tatty. Its the hotels themselves. Each one was still in the 70's. Look next time if you go. Not one has changed for years. The window frames, furniture, signage and the food. 'Extra large cod' with chips + free cuppa. Casino? You're having a laugh! Clean up your act Blackpool and get the punters back.

Judith DeneOctober 16th 2007.

I could not agree more with Angie Robinson regarding the shabby state of some of Blackpool's hotels and catering establishments, I personally believe a total rethink is needed to help to re-establish Blackpool and its hosting establishments as a major venue for any large venue, conference or official gathering. I don't think that promoting the Hen and Stag weekends are helping, other that to give the town a even more shabby and down-market image. Wake up Blackpool and smell the coffee before its too late, you can do better than this, afterall you used to be able to. The town and its businesses and the people who promote blackpool need to wake up and realise that trying to cash in on a fast buck on any down-market or sleazy type business is the road to nowhere except to a poor business image and making the rest of us stay away. Eventually this will lead many Blackpool hotel keepers and the like into certain bankruptcy.Blackpool, you need to stop and think because if you don't then Manchester and other places will steal your trade from under your noses, Manchester can and will make a better job of it too. I love Blackpool, Manchester and most of the North west but if the trend continues then the worst case scenario is the hosting businesses and the trade from it will all go south and then we all lose out.Judith.

The real world.October 16th 2007.

The article is all about one thing and one thing only.Quote:"It’s no wonder that the political conferences have now deserted the place – and have decided that the modern city centre location of Manchester is by far a better option". As to the comments about "deeply saddened" I doubt it!

tony tOctober 16th 2007.

KGCS ah it was only an observation, doesnt matter who runs the council i agree with your comments inept etc... how about knocking it down and starting again?Or better still lets rebuild blackpool in scotland as it seems to be overrun by scots persons!

SophieOctober 16th 2007.

Ms Robinson should visit Rusholme and Fallowfield some time - the streets are strewn with rubbish from takeaway restaurants, the alleyways are filthy with rubbish, and I see rats scurrying about daily. I daresay that Blackpool needs a makeover but sadly south Manchester also needs to get its house in order.

DebbieOctober 16th 2007.

Nothing to do with Manchester - directly to do with the locals electing Tory councils who neither tax nor spend and a concentration of small local businesses who put put little back in to the ecomony. Only big players will help now. A casino? maybe but how many big spenders will go if they have to stay in the filth described by Angie?

Dave, OldhamOctober 16th 2007.

When Blackpool did not get the casino, it painted such a self-pitying picture of itself that it was no wonder that the town is dying. Amateur politicians and whingeing residents could not wait to get on to the TV and tell us all that this was the end of Blackpool. They should have been saying that the economy of their town was so vibrant that not getting one particular project did not matter. They should have been suggesting that the freeing up of the proposed site enabled them to consider more exciting options. Instead, their own negativity only encouraged negativity in the minds of viewers and potential developers. Blackpool is not far behind Rhyl in its journey to decline.

bobOctober 16th 2007.

Blackpool the best thing to do is to put this terminally ill place out of its misery you can smell the grease on the M55

reddersOctober 16th 2007.

1) ms robinson has obviously never used a car park in Manchester if she thinks Blackpool's are expensive2) do as anyone else would and buy something from the shopkeeper for your change - he's not there for you - he has a business!3) has she never seen an unclean street in Manchester?? I admit the seagulls are more likely to be pigeons - but really.....4) I suppose no-one mentioned the style and class of THE BEST BED AND BREAKFAST IN ENGLAND - Number One ????5)try actually going into a cafe with style - there are plently you know. Would you go into a cafe anywhere else with flies in the window? or was this done on purpose so you could moan about it6) as the Chief Exec of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce I am disgusted by your lack of professionalism. thanks for being so supportive of your neighbours..... you after more business for Manchester by any chance? how see-through and shallow. positivity on the work being done - the VERY clean new South Beach, the highly commended Public Space at George Bancroft Park, the new Laurence-Llewellyn Bowen Illuminations and the award-winning restaurants....do you need glasses?

gill jordonOctober 16th 2007.

which hotel did ms robinson stay inI am worried about my weekend break with the kids next week!

AndyOctober 16th 2007.

Redders, if you didn't read the article fully, she tried to buy sweets from the shop and was refused service. May have only been 80p, but it's still business. If people come in your shop all the time buying things with large notes for change, stock up on bloody change and be grateful to get so much business without having to try!

brianOctober 16th 2007.

of course its knackered...manchester takes all the money and bleeds the surrounding towns dry...mind ou there's a lot more to blackpool than the tourist part...the rest iof the town is pretty nice...

tony tOctober 16th 2007.

KGCS ah it was only an observation, doesnt matter who runs the council i agree with your comments inept etc... how about knocking it down and starting again?Or better still lets rebuild blackpool in scotland as it seems to be overrun by scots persons!

jamesOctober 16th 2007.

I hate it when people slag BLACKPOOL off,if u dont like it dont come here then,its the best place for the gay and straigth scene,beach,theme park,new shopping now,most gay friendliest place iv been and im from the lakedistrict thats saying something,the council is workin there hardest for the people of blackpool and to regenerate the place,alot of people have faith in blackpool,id come here then manchster any day i h8t the place,liverpool is alot better,but if u dont like blackpool dnt slag it of just dont ****in come over coz we dont wont u

birchyOctober 16th 2007.

Angie Robinson has got it absolutely right. Blackpool stinks (literally). I recently visited the Opera house and doubt if any other theatre in Great Britain is a dirty or in need of a bigger facelift. It will be many moons before I visit again. If the world ever needs an enema, they will stick the tube in Blackpool

AnonymousAugust 1st 2010.

Blackpool is gone in my eyes. It is fun for a quick half a day on the pleasure beach or up the tower, but even those attractions are ailing slightly. The problem I see is that Blackpool attracts the wrong sort of people, they are the sort of filth ridden idiots that want to get drunk and have a fight. I was on the the pleasure beach today and witnessed a man being arrested, I feel this was so inappropriate especially infront families trying to enjoy their day out. I was saddened by the amount of litter drifting around the place, it's like people don't have respect anymore and if they see a dirty place they make it dirtier. I had good childhood memories of this resort but current times are certainly not good and I can imagine for the residents too. Giving facelifts here and there and providing the occasional lick of paint won't be enough to transform Blackpool, it needs a massive cultural change and a major overhaul of the place aesthetically. But is it gone too far?

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