I am no stranger to Blackpool. When my family first visited the resort in the late 1980s, I fell in love with it. I was born and raised in Essex and the only seaside resorts I had visited were Southend-on-Sea and Clacton-on-Sea. Blackpool, however, was different and I fell in love with it from the moment we arrived.
One of the things that first caught my eye was Blackpool Tower, a giant of beauty. I also remember the arcades – Coral Island, Mr B’s and Funland stick in my mind. The three piers were a far cry to the long pier in Southend-on-Sea, and the golden beaches were absolutely stunning. But my best memory were the illuminations, Blackpool was transformed to a masterpiece.
Over the years I have had some brilliant times in Blackpool, from family holidays to wild weekends with friends; romantic times and emotional times. But in September 2017, I made the decision to quit Essex for a new life in Blackpool – and I do not regret it.
I live in a nice flat in close proximity to Blackpool North Station, the shops and the promenade. It literally takes me 10 minutes to drive to work. The location is perfect for me and I also have a good view of Blackpool Tower. I took a pay cut to move to Blackpool, but my rent is reasonable and the lower cost of living compensates for my pay cut.
I consider myself to be very lucky to have a steady job with office hours in Blackpool, jobs like these are hard to come by here. A lot of the local employment is seasonal, but retail and the tourist industry is a lifeline for many local residents.
When I lived in Essex, I thought life was tough, but what I have experienced in Blackpool has made me see things from a different perspective. Take it from me, the north-south divide really does exist.
Parts of Blackpool North are in a shocking state. Filthy streets full of litter and dog’s excrement, cracked roads and pavements and houses that look rundown and dilapidated. The promenade and backstreets are full of boarded up hotels and guest houses that have gone out of business, and seeing these buildings and the state of the streets is not a pleasant sight for tourists and visitors.
Despite the dozens and dozens of empty properties in Blackpool North, the area has a huge problem with homelessness and begging. People are sleeping in shop doorways and on benches – and nothing is being done to help them. They are of all ages, from people in their late teens to their late 70s. It is shocking and heartbreaking to see.
On Saturday, I saw a homeless man sitting in a doorway on Dickson Road. It was a cold, drizzly morning and I felt really sorry for him. His clothes were dirty and torn. He told me he was cold and hungry and asked if I could spare him any change. I did more than that.
It’s a cold and drizzly day here in Blackpool. I saw a homeless man sitting in a doorway; he told me he was cold and hungry. His clothes were torn and dirty
I gave him my jacket and bought him a tea and a ham and cheese toastie. He burst into tears and said “You’re my hero.” 😢
— Socialist Voice #GTTO (@SocialistVoice) February 3, 2018
I decided to buy him a cup of tea and a toastie. I also gave him my jacket as he was shivering. He looked at me and started crying and said “You are my hero. I never expected this, I never expected you to be nice to me. Most people just ignore me.” I gave him a hug.
After a brief chat with him I headed off to do my shopping, but spent the rest of the day thinking about him. But as I walked around the shops I saw other homeless people and beggars. In fact, I saw a total of 9 homeless people. Absolutely shocking and heartbreaking that homelessness in Blackpool is simply being ignored. These are people with feelings but have been failed by our Tory government that proudly boasts about the economy – an economy that only benefits the rich and the elite.
I personally blame our Tory MP Paul Maynard who is failing Blackpool North and Cleveleys. He is doing absolutely nothing to clean up the resort including the filthy streets. He is doing nothing to get investment in the resort which would prevent hotels, guest houses and other businesses being boarded up because they have been failed by the economy. He is doing nothing to help restore the council properties that are becoming dilapidated and falling into disrepair. And he is doing nothing to help the homeless.
In fact, the social problems affecting Blackpool North & Cleveleys are a direct result of Paul Maynard voting to impose austerity on his constituents and cutting the council budget. He also voted to cut the police budget but then complained when Bispham Police Station was earmarked for closure. You really could not make it up.
When I raised these issues with Paul Maynard on social media, this was the response I got:
I challenged my Tory MP Paul Maynard @PaulMaynardUK over social problems in Blackpool North & Cleveleys:
Homelessness, deprivation, filthy streets, and why he voted to cut police budget yet complains about earmarked closure of Bispham police station
This was the response I got pic.twitter.com/rtKfUb0AoE
— Socialist Voice #GTTO (@SocialistVoice) February 5, 2018
He was equally as ignorant when a local nurse questioned him on Facebook asking why he voted against giving nurses a pay rise:
Tory MP Paul Maynard, who voted to cut the police budget then complained that his local police station in Bispham was earmarked for closure, attacked a nurse on Facebook, blocked her then deleted his post
He has a habit of blocking his constituents when they challenge him pic.twitter.com/h2jqDz89Fl
— Socialist Voice #GTTO (@SocialistVoice) February 5, 2018
Paul Maynard simply does not care. As an MP he is rude and ignorant, he blocks his constituents on social media when they challenge him and he continues voting for Tory policies that are hurting Blackpool North & Cleveleys. He is completely out of touch with his constituents and is unfit to be in politics. His dismissive attitude is a typical Tory attitude, one that says more about him than it does people like me holding him to account.
Blackpool as a resort has so much to offer and I have a few suggestions.
1. The Government should consider Jeremy Corbyn’s policy whereby it purchases empty properties and renovates them. They should then be rented out at affordable rate – this would help tackle homelessness in Blackpool and also ease council accommodation waiting lists for local people.
2. Investment: For example, Blackpool could do with a casino, it would create jobs, boost tourism and the local economy.
3. Extend the illuminations. The illuminations attract tens of thousands of visitors to every year, yet as soon as they are switched off in early November the resort turns into a ghost town. The illuminations are now run on LED lights which are way cheaper – if the illuminations were extended until 31 December it would encourage more tourists to Blackpool, boost the local economy and the hotel industry. The extra revenue raised would help pay for the cost of the illuminations. I also propose that the illuminations are accompanied by a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, giving revellers the opportunity to welcome the New Year in style.
4. More events throughout the year including live music and celebrity appearances. We have the darts tournament at the Winter Gardens and Strictly at the Tower Ballroom, and they always attract a huge gathering.
5. More skilled work. Blackpool would be an ideal location for industry as part of a northern hub. This work could range from warehouses to factories. There is far too much emphasis on London and the south east and it is high time industries started focusing on the north of England.
I care passionately about Blackpool and only want what is best for the resort. Paul Maynard has failed Blackpool North & Cleveleys and I hope at the next election – which could be sometime this year – people elect Labour’s Chris Webb who works hard by campaigning and holding the Tories to account. Like me, Chris only wants what is best for Blackpool North & Cleveleys. As an MP he will deliver change and will put Blackpool North & Cleveleys first, unlike Paul Maynard who is a career politician.
Jeremy Corbyn’s social reforms will transform Britain and he has pledged to invest in the North of England and in seaside towns like Blackpool that have been left behind for far too long.
Blackpool North & Cleveleys deserves better than Paul Maynard. But if people keep re-electing him then the social problems affecting the resort will only get worse.