Business Partnerships Report – November 30, 2018
Town Centre Economy


The BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing returned to the Tower Ballroom on November 17, creating a huge wave of publicity for the resort.
As always, the promotion of the Blackpool show began in the preceding weeks, with professional dancers and celebrity partners vying to dance on one of the world’s most famous ballroom floors.
A number of the dance routines, including that of TV presenter Stacey Dooley, had a Blackpool theme.
There were also a number of sequences shot in other resort locations including Stanley Park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, SEA LIFE and Madame Tussauds.
The Blackpool show, which featured live performances from Take That and Gloria Estefan, was broadcast on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, attracting a peak audience of more than 10 million viewers.

Section 1: Visitor Economy


The award-winning Lightpool Festival was staged in the resort over the October half-term with a mixture of live performance, spectacular art installations and a repeat of last year’s hugely popular illuminated tram parade.
The festival, which was part-funded by Arts Council England, was launched with Light Odyssey, an incredible sound and light show staged in the Empress Ballroom (pictured above) and featuring 90 musicians from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and 15 light animators from across the globe.
Over the following week, there were three nights of programmed entertainment starting with The Carnival of Lights parade between Central and North Piers, featuring illuminated trams and vehicles, costume characters, Lumidogs and the famous Spark! drummers.
The following night saw 1500 people witness RUSH, an epic dance and light production staged outdoors with a 100-strong cast on New Bonny Street Car Park just off the Golden Mile. The festival finale took on St John’s Square with a UK premiere of Pyronix – a spectacular Belgian pyrotechnic show combining fire, martial arts, dance and acrobatics.
Throughout the three days, there was an indoor and outdoor art trail featuring contributions from the likes of Yoko Ono and Luke Jerram, whose replica moon was hung in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, attracting more than 10,000 visitors.


The long-awaited plans for the Central Station development site in the heart of Blackpool are due to be revealed in the first week of December.
The vast site, which is currently occupied by the courts, former police station and one of Blackpool’s biggest outdoor car parks, was originally earmarked as the site for the UK’s first super-casino.
A new masterplan will be presented to Blackpool Council’s Executive on December 10, but details of the proposals will be made public a few days ahead of that.


Lytham Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019 with its biggest line-up to date.
Legendary rock star Rod Stewart, international pop singer Kylie Minogue, 80s band The Human League and Hollywood Proms, featuring Sheridan Smith and Michael Ball, will take to the stage over the five-night festival. The fifth headline act is to be announced in December. The 10th anniversary festival will take place in the Main Proms Arena on Lytham Green from Wednesday 10 to Sunday 14 July. Tickets are now on sale.


A Canadian pyrotechnics team has been named as Blackpool’s World Fireworks Champions for the second time in four years.
Firemaster Productions saw off competition from teams from France and Romania with a spectacular display synched to music over North Pier.
Although one of this year’s heats was postponed because of bad weather, all four firework events eventually went ahead, attracting tens of thousands of spectators to the Promenade over the four nights. This year, a fifth firework event was staged using funds contributed by Northern Rail as compensation for the ongoing rail disruption.


The free wristband ballot for the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On event in 2019 is open.
It follows the unprecedented demand for this year’s event when a capacity audience packed the Tower Festival Headland Arena to watch a spectacular five-hour concert, culminating in the switch-on by international music star, Alfie Boe. Since then, the VisitBlackpool team has been swamped with requests for information on next year’s event, which will take place on Friday 30 August. It will once again feature a star-studded concert produced in association with MTV.
This year, over 130,000 people applied for free wristbands to attend the event.


Nickelodeon’s SLIMEFEST returned to Blackpool over the October half-term with six sessions of music and mayhem at the Pleasure Beach Arena.
The shows, which are produced in partnership with VisitBlackpool, featured the likes of Diversity, American You Tube phenomenon Jo Jo Siwa, Busted, HRVY, Union J, Becky Hill and Jonas Blue.
All 12,000 tickets were sold out, with families travelling from all over the UK to watch the exclusive shows. An hour-long broadcast went out on the Nickelodeon TV channel on November 2 and was repeated several times over the following days, generating a huge number of viewers.
As part of the collaboration with Nickelodeon, a Transformers attraction was located on the Comedy Carpet over the three days of the live shows.


Two of Blackpool’s Grande Dames will celebrate a major milestone in 2019 – the 125th anniversary of their opening to the public.
The Blackpool Tower, which opened on May 14, 1894, will be hosting a year-long programme of celebratory events from May 2019 onwards.
The nearby Grand Theatre was designed by Frank Matcham, the leading theatre architect of the day, and built at a cost of £20,000.
The theatre opened on July 23, 1894, with a production of Hamlet, with the programme printed on pure silk and perfumed with “Tower Bouquet”, created by a nearby chemist.
The Grand will be announcing its programme of celebrations early in the New Year.


Blackpool was chosen to take part in a special commemoration to mark the centenary of Armistice Day on November 11.
Pages of the Sea was an event commissioned by film director Danny Boyle in which the public were invited to gather on beaches across the UK for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.
Each chosen destination was asked to facilitate the drawing of a large-scale portrait in the sand of a casualty from the war, which was then washed away by the tide.
Poet Carol Ann Duffy was invited by Boyle to write a new poem for the occasion which was read by individuals, families and communities who gathered on the beaches.
In Blackpool’s case, the event commemorated the death of Lancastrian Lance Corporal John Edward Arkwright (pictured right) who lost his life in the First World War.
The remembrance event was staged on the beach below the Cenotaph on North Promenade prior to the annual Remembrance Day service.


Actor Sir Ian McKellen is to bring his new solo show to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre as part of his 80th birthday celebrations.
He will perform on 80 stages across the UK next year with all profits benefiting each individual theatre, including the Grand’s 125th anniversary fund-raising activity.
Sir Ian said he chose Blackpool as one of his venues because while growing up in Lancashire he had always been intrigued by the glamour of Blackpool, its shows and Illuminations.


The new Dr Who landed in Blackpool – just in time for the October half-term holidays.
The model of the 13th Doctor, in the form of actress Jodie Whittaker, has been installed at Madame Tussauds in a themed setting including the famous TARDIS.


Blackpool’s day tripper market has been hit by a summer of rail disruption.
The latest Omnibus survey results for May to August show that while the number of overnight stays remained strong, the volume of day visits fell by almost 400,000 compared to 2017.
During that four-month period, the resort was affected by a catalogue of cancellations and delays caused initially by timetabling issues across the Northern network, followed by closures on key routes including Manchester and Liverpool, and further exacerbated by strike action targeted at major events and key weekends.
The Omnibus survey shows that the total number of adult visits fell from 3.2m in 2017 to 2.8m in 2018. Overnight stays accounted for 1.5m visits, the same as previous year, but day visits fell from 1.7m to 1.3m.
The biggest falls came in May, when the introduction of new timetables created chaos on the Northern network and in August, when Blackpool’s services were affected by a mixture of strike action and cancellations on key routes.
Over that same four-month period, the volume of inbound travellers coming into Blackpool by rail fell by an average of 5%, with a deficit of 10% in August. Year to date, inbound rail travel is more than 15% down.
Although the 2018 visitor numbers fell short of 2017, they are ahead of the same period in 2016. The strike action on Northern Rail services has continued into the autumn with disruption planned every Saturday between September and December.
 The annual STEAM survey for 2017 shows an annual total of 18m visits (adults and children) for the year, with a 2% growth in economic impact giving Blackpool’s visitor economy a total value of £1.5bn. STEAM is the model used by most destinations to measure the value of tourism.


A number of Blackpool tourism businesses celebrated success in the annual Lancashire Tourism Awards.
The Fylde Coast winners and finalists included:
Wedding Venue: Ribby Hall Village, Wrea Green (finalist)
New Business: Clip’n Climb Blackpool (finalist)
Taste Lancashire Restaurant Award: Twelve Restaurant, Thornton (winner)
Holiday Village: Reams Hill Holiday Park, Weeton (winner); Pipers Height Caravan Park, Blackpool (finalist).
Self-Catering Holiday: Newton Hall Holiday Apartments, Blackpool (finalist)
Lancashire Large Hotel: Hotel Sheraton, Blackpool (finalist)
Business Tourism: Winter Gardens, Blackpool (winner); Ribby Hall, Wrea Green (finalist)
Large Visitor Attraction: Madame Tussauds, Blackpool (highly commended); Ascent Trampoline Park, Blackpool (finalist); Blackpool Zoo (finalist)
Retail Experience: Fleetwood Market (winner).
Visitor Experience: Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours (finalist)
Cultural Venue/Organisation Award: Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours (finalist)
Inclusive Tourism Award: Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool (winner)
Small Event Award: The Penny Farm Open Day, Blackpool (finalist)


VisitBlackpool joined forces with the Winter Gardens to exhibit at the Conservative Party Conference for the first time. The resort’s message to over 10,000 delegates attending the four-day event in Birmingham was: “Bring your party conference back to Blackpool”. They reminded the party faithful that up until 2007 Blackpool’s Winter Gardens was regularly the destination of choice for both Conservative and Labour annual gatherings. The Blackpool team highlighted how the resort has enjoyed a multi-million pound transformation in recent years including a new £28m Conference & Exhibition Centre that is under construction immediately adjacent to the Winter Garden. The team addressed concerns from delegates about Blackpool’s perceived poor transport connectivity and a lack of premium accommodation. They acknowledged that while both factors had contributed to Blackpool falling out of favour some years ago, millions had been invested in new tourism infrastructure and next generation hotels.


Blackpool town centre is to benefit from discounted parking and public transport fares in a joint campaign to encourage people to shop local this Christmas.
Throughout December, residents and out-of-town visitors will be able to park for just £1 for any three-hour period on Central, East Topping Street and West Street car parks in the town centre.
In addition, Blackpool Transport will offer £1 tickets to use trams and buses after 5.30pm on the three late-night shopping Thursdays – December 6, 13 and 20 – and all day every Sunday during December. The discount applies to journeys to or from Blackpool town centre.
The discounted parking offer, which is being funded by Blackpool Council and the Town Centre BID, starts on Saturday 1 December, which is National Small Business Saturday and the day of Blackpool’s Christmas Lights Switch-On in St John’s Square. The town centre lights will be switched on by Emmerdale star Danny Miller during an afternoon of live entertainment which starts at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
This year sees a number of top-quality Christmas productions in and around the town centre including the Beauty & The Beast pantomime at the Grand Theatre; The Wizard Of Oz at the Opera House; Santa’s New Sleigh at the Pavilion Theatre in the Winter Gardens; and Aladdin at The Blackpool Tower Circus. In addition, there is a wide range of Christmas shows and party nights at leading venues such as Viva and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
The Christmas In Blackpool offers, which run until January 1, will be heavily promoted through a joint advertising and social media campaign by Blackpool Council, the BID and Blackpool Transport.
For details of all Christmas shows and entertainment in Blackpool, go to

Section 2: Town Centre Economy


The latest survey of town centre vacant units show that there was a net increase of one vacant unit in the town centre compared to August 2018, bringing the overall total up to 142 and increasing the vacancy rate from 22% to 22.2%.
This slightly worsening trend is due to an increase in the vacancy rates in the Core Retail Area (21%). In contrast, the Principal Retail Core (down five) and periphery town centre (down one) areas experienced net reductions in the number of vacant units over the three month period.
The newly-vacant units include:
McCann’s Convenience Stores (Church Street); Bloom Hearing Specialist, Carne, Tea Junction Café, Hair (Clifton Street); Bet Sid, Cash Is King (Abingdon Street); It’s a Gallery (Talbot Road); Job Centre (Queen Street); Trendy Monsters and Ron Reddy Butchers (Topping Street).
Since August, a number of businesses have occupied previously vacant units.
These include: Sea Fish (Houndshill); Cherish (Victoria Street); B&M Bargains, Vapers’ Choice, Beau Belle (Church Street); Cream Gelato (Bank Hey Street); Warwick’s Amusements, Renaissance Tattoo (Abingdon Street); Reilly’s Smoke and Vape (Topping Street) and Digitav (Milbourne Street).
The November 2018 vacancy rates for the three areas are as follows:
Principal Retail Core (Local Plan boundary based around Houndshill, Victoria Street, Bank Hey Street, Church Street, Corporation Street and Adelaide Street West)
Total Units 1    162
Total Vacant Units  21
Vacancy Rate   13.0%
Core Retail Area (as above but also including Topping Street, Queen Street, Clifton Street, Birley Street, Market Street, Talbot Road, Abingdon Street and Cedar Square)
Total Units 1   463
Total Vacant Units 97
Vacancy Rate  21.0%
Town Centre Boundary – this relates to the Core Strategy found in the Local Plan (as above but also including the Promenade, Springfield Road, Dickson Road, King Street, Cookson Street, Caunce Street and the new Talbot Gateway area)
Total Units 1    641
Total Vacant Units  142
Vacancy Rate  22.2%
Periphery Town Centre Area (the Town Centre Boundary area excluding the units contained within the Core Retail Area)
Total Units 1  178
Total Vacant Units  45
Vacancy Rate   25.3%


The latest phase of town centre roadworks is now underway.
This will result in the following temporary closures:
Map area
Affected area
Approximate timescales
1. Talbot Road closed from The Strand to Abingdon Street        24 Apr 2018 – 14 Dec 2018
2. Talbot Road closed from Abingdon Street to Dickson Road     3 Sep 2018 – 18 Jan 2019
3.  High Street one way Northbound between Dickson Road and Talbot Road 5 Nov 2018 – 26 Nov 2018
4.  The Promenade closed from West Street to Queen’s Square   5 Nov 2018 – 21 Jan 2019
5.  Talbot Square closed    5 Nov 2018 – 28 Feb 2019
Note: Sections of Talbot Road will temporarily reopen whilst there is a break for the Christmas period. For full information, go to


Blackpool’s Grand Theatre and Blackpool Transport have joined forces to encourage more theatre-goers to use public transport. The initiative has resulted in the launch of a heavily-discounted return travel ticket for adults and children giving easy access and reduced cost. Adults will be able to travel to and from the theatre for just £3 and children at £1, saving over 40 per cent. The travel ticket can be added on to theatre tickets when booking a show. For more information about the Destination Grand Theatre initiative go to or call the Box Office on 01253 290 190.


A photograph of an electrical storm over Blackpool has won a national award. Stephen Cheatley was named the Overall Weather Photographer of the Year by the Royal Meteorological Society for the shot he took in 2015, called Electric Blackpool.


Bispham Village is set to be upgraded over the next few months to create a more modern and safe environment for pedestrians and shoppers. Following consultation, work is now taking place to:
 Make it easier to cross roads by introducing raised crossing and narrow points in the roads
 Reduce the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph
 Repave and resurface the footpaths and roads
 Install new bus shelters, benches, planting, bins and bollards
Work will focus on stretches of Blackpool Road, Redbank Road, Ingthorpe Avenue and All Hallows Road. The current number of car parking spaces will be maintained and will remain free of charge. Bus stops and taxi ranks will also be kept the same. The work began in October and is expected to take around 20 weeks to complete.
The initial stages of the works do not involve any road closures this year although there will be some road closures towards the end of the works.

Section 3: General News


Blackpool’s Pride of Place Partnership has launched a prospectus to grow the resort economy by £1bn by 2030 and create and safeguard 10,000 jobs
The prospectus also outlines the opportunity to:
 Create 3,000 new quality homes to tackle the concentration of deprivation in inner Blackpool
 Improve employment rates of Blackpool’s 16-25-year-olds through a focus on health, wellbeing and work readiness
 Transform national perceptions so Blackpool is seen as a “can do” vibrant place and as a destination
for business investment
The Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership, created last year by Business in the Community (Prince Charles’ Responsible Business Network), is a collaboration between private, public and voluntary sector including Merlin Entertainments, Beaverbrooks, BAE Systems, Big Lottery, Blackpool Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
The Blackpool town prospectus is an invitation to national Government to work together with the partnership to address long-term challenges.
The key asks of Government within the prospectus are:
 A housing action zone for inner Blackpool to sustainably improve some of the poorest accommodation
 A plan to safeguard the long-term retention of civil service jobs within Blackpool town centre
 Making the Fylde Coast a designated tourism zone as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy
 Supporting businesses to consolidate growth within the Enterprise Zones by increasing the deadline for business rates relief and capital allowances to 2030
 Investment to complete the train/tram loop and enhance the South Fylde rail service to improve transport links
 A Government-created taskforce to review and improve mental health provisions on the Fylde Coast and extend the opportunity area programme to 2030
 Ensure that the Government Shared Prosperity Fund is flexible enough to support these ambitions, including investment in the visitor-related economy and physical transformation of the town.


Blackpool Council is supporting a North West initiative to promote healthier drink choices for under-fives.
The council’s Public Health department is working with Food Active and Blackpool Better Start to encourage parents and carers to give only water and milk to babies and children, and raise awareness of the risks associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.
Research shows that babies as young as one-year-old are consuming high levels of sugar in their diet. As a result, by the age of five nearly a third of children had obvious decay in their milk teeth, and sugary drinks are viewed as a major part of the problem.
To support the Kind to Teeth campaign, bottle swaps will also be offered through all Blackpool children’s centres, various early year facilities and dental practices, as well as Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The swaps look to encourage parents and carers to swap their child’s bottle for a free cup or beaker, thereby reducing the risk of bottle caries, a form of tooth decay. Teats and spouts on bottles encourage children to suck for long periods of time, which means that the drinks that cause tooth decay stay in contact with the child’s teeth for long periods of time.


Dog owners have welcomed a new set of measures that will ultimately see Blackpool promoting itself as a dog-friendly destination. Following an extensive public consultation that attracted more than 1,600 responses, the Council has agreed on a revised set of dog control orders across the resort.
The measures to be adopted within the new Public Space Protection Orders take effect from December 1, 2018 and include:
 Dog walkers being required to show they have the means to pick up dog mess when challenged by authorised officers
 Extension of an existing order for dogs on leads to include Promenade Middle Walk, Starr Gate tram circle and South Promenade grass embankment. In addition, Cabin Walk will be designated as an area for dogs on leads by request. Fisher’s Field will not be included within the extended areas
 Relaxation of the dogs on leads order that exists in the Italian Gardens and Café Terrace in Stanley Park so that this becomes a seasonal restriction from 10am-4pm from May 1 to August 31
 Lifting of restrictions for dog exclusion areas at open space ponds and wetlands and replaced with dogs on leads by request. Dogs will not be excluded from marked out sports pitches except when in use
 Continuation of the existing dogs on leads by request rule on all land within the borough


Aviation industry experts have produced a comprehensive report setting out the best opportunities to revive and secure the future of the council-owned Blackpool Airport. The report, produced by leading airport and aviation consultant, York Aviation, makes a number of recommendations for investment in infrastructure, operations and management of the airport to ensure it remains a key transport asset for the North West. York Aviation identifies the main opportunities for future growth potential as:
 Growth of existing areas of core business, particularly general aviation activity and flying tuition
 Continuation of the contract for helicopter offshore operations
 Creation of further opportunities for corporate and executive aviation activity
 Opportunities to attract substantial aircraft maintenance repair and operational activity, with the main focus on smaller executive jet-type aircraft
 Replacing old hangars with new-build hangars located closer to the runway to increase capacity and income
 Opening up attractive development land fronting Squires Gate Lane
 Development of an on-site café with airside views
York Aviation has also analysed the market to assess how likely it is that commercial air services might be reintroduced at the airport. They looked at a number of holiday routes operating on an annual or seasonal basis that could theoretically sustain passenger levels to justify a service to rival competition from the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds/Bradford.
The report suggests that the total anticipated market for passengers from the region is estimated at 250,000. These volumes would, however, require high levels of investment in new terminal facilities, security, operational equipment and staffing, the cost of which would far outweigh the income generated and could see an annual seven-figure financial loss. It is estimated that around 1.5m passengers would be needed each year to justify the level of investment required to support a full-scale return of mainstream passenger services.
Historically, maximum passenger numbers at the airport peaked at 700,000 per a year. York explored the potential for a resumption of local regional air services to the Isle of Man, Dublin and Belfast which operated from the airport until 2016.
The opportunity for re-introduction of such services will continue to be reviewed, but the report advises that careful consideration and financial scrutiny would need to be given to the increased costs of staffing and operational requirements.


A state-of-the-art 737 flight simulator is coming to Blackpool Airport in the New Year. Enthusiasts will be able to take control in the captain’s seat for the full experience of take-off, in-flight cruising and landing at international airports of their choice. A qualified pilot will be on hand throughout to guide customers through the flight experience. A variety of bespoke packages are available, from individual flight experiences of 30 minutes to full-day group bookings. The attraction is a collaboration between commercial pilot Daniel May and the Westair flying school at the airport. Full details:


Northern has unveiled the first two trains in a £500m new fleet that will set new quality standards for customers using local rail services in the north of England.
Due to start entering service by the end of the year, the new trains will mean a step-change in quality for customers, with features, such as free customer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, at-seat power and seat reservation systems.
Several weeks ago, Northern launched its first fully refurbished train – a Class 158 – which boasts many of the same features as the new trains and will be the blueprint for the refurbishment of the rest of the Northern fleet.
The train enhancements will continue to be complemented by further investment, such as an increase in services and improvements at more than 400 Northern stations.


Blackpool Transport’s tram engineering team has been named as joint winners of the Team of the Year award at the Global Light Rail Awards. The award, which was shared with London Trams, recognises the collective efforts of those who have gone above and beyond to deliver excellence within the light rail industry.
Tram technician Chris Higham, one of four apprentices at Blackpool Transport, was highly commended in the Rising Star category.


The Government is urging employers to sign up to a covenant supporting employment for care leavers across the country.
Around 40 per cent of all care leavers aged 19-21 in England are not in employment, education or training. The covenant commits to provide work-based opportunities to young people leaving the care system and every government department has signed up.
It aims to create 10,000 work opportunities over the next 10 years to help young people gain vital skills and experiences as they enter the jobs market. To support the initiative, go to this link:


Volunteers are being sought from Blackpool businesses to take part in a university research study exploring how place is implicated in men’s work-based experiences and aspirations.
Two towns, Blackpool and Hastings, have been chosen for the research, which is being conducted at Brunel University. The researchers are hoping to talk to around 30 men who are 18 and over and who are currently employed or seeking work in skilled and unskilled manual work.
Participation is entirely voluntary and individuals can withdraw at any time. The interviews can be conducted individually or in pairs – usually at the place of work. Interviews take about 45 minutes and cover particular themes relating to individual employment histories and employment paths, work-based opportunities in the area and the choices seen to be available.
The project is offering £20 Amazon vouchers to participants as a thanks for their involvement and as a recognition of their time.
Any businesses/employers willing to assist in the recruitment of volunteers should contact Professor Ruth Simpson, email or call 07752406929


Blackpool businesses are urged to support the annual White Ribbon campaign, which is aimed at raising the awareness of domestic violence against women. Supporters of the campaign are asked to pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women in all its forms.
White Ribbon Day was on November 25, but that is followed by 16 days of activities. The full list of Blackpool activities can be viewed here:
Blackpool Council is also looking to recruit more proactive male ambassadors and female champions to support raising awareness across the town. If this you are interested in and would like to discuss further, email
Philip Welsh
Head of Tourism & Communications
Section 4: Requests for Private Sector Support