Blackpool council sets out bold blueprint for the future

Blackpool Council has set out an exciting and ambitious blueprint for the future, with a heavy focus on maximising opportunities and life chances for local people.

The Council Plan 2019-24 seeks to build on the successes of the previous plan which has already delivered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of improvements and investment, and galvanised local communities through ground-breaking initiatives.

The Plan, which will go before the Council Executive later this month, charts the major achievements of the past four years including the huge investment that has already been made in the visitor economy to maintain Blackpool’s status as the UK’s number one family resort and the foundations that have been laid for large-scale job creation through economic growth initiatives such as the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Alongside these physical improvements, the Plan shows how community-based initiatives such as Better Start, HeadStart and the Opportunity Area programme have already started to shift the public perceptions of what life can be like for young people in Blackpool, as well as putting a high degree of emphasis on teaching and education in order to raise pupil aspirations.

The plans for 2019-24 seek to build on this success through its two key priority areas: Maximising economic growth and opportunity across Blackpool; and creating increasingly stronger and more resilient communities by giving greater focus on prevention of issues before they become a problem.

From an economic perspective, the new Plan shows how major projects such as the newly-announced £300m Blackpool Central development and the planned opening of the Conference Centre, museum and several “next generation” hotels will set a new quality benchmark for the resort’s tourism offer. All of which will provide much-needed jobs for local people. This activity will be complemented by investment in transport infrastructure; revitalisation of the town centre to reduce its dependence on retail; expansion of the business district within Talbot Gateway with new office development; creation of new jobs for local people; and the renewal and development of high-quality affordable housing.

The key objectives for creating stronger communities includes further development of flagship projects for young people and establishment of partnerships that will help tackle some of the resort’s most deep seated health and social issues.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This new Council Plan clearly illustrates how much has been achieved over the past few years despite the challenge of some of the biggest budget cuts handed out by Central Government.

“The list of achievements in terms of revitalising the local economy and creating stronger and more resilient communities is impressive, and that remarkable progress establishes a very solid foundation to build on in the years ahead.

“We are confident that the journey we are on is capable of delivering a first-class tourism product, diversifying our employment base, revitalising the town centre and, most importantly, giving a better quality of life to our residents and enormous opportunities for our young people.”

Neil Jack, Chief Executive of Blackpool Council, added: “Over the past few years we have had to develop an ethos of delivering more for less. But that has in no way harnessed us in terms of developing big ideas that are capable of delivering a transformational effect on the town.

“We have no doubt that our stated policy of working in partnership to open up new opportunities is key to delivering the bold ambition contained within this refreshed Council Plan.

“So much has already been achieved, but the next few years will see some landmark projects come to fruition – projects that are capable of delivering a step-change for the resort, its residents and its visitors.”

The Story So Far

The Council Plan 2019-24 lists the numerous achievements since the last plan was published in 2015. These include:

Growing The Economy

. Securing the status of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone which has already created and safeguarded more than 700 jobs

· Winning £18m of funding to enable construction work to start on the new £26m Winter Gardens Conference Centre

· Securing of funding and start of construction on the £23m tramway extension to Blackpool North Station

· Starting delivery of the £7m Quality Corridors programme to improve town centre streetscape and delivering more than £10m of road bridge improvements

· Gaining national recognition for the resort’s commitment to customer service through the WorldHost scheme

· Allocating almost £100m through the Business Loans Fund to help local businesses grow and prosper

· Developing the tramway to the extent that in 2017 it served the highest number of passengers for 15 years – a total of just over five million

· Delivering new tourism-based events and initiatives such as the LightPool project which attracted almost 500,000 additional visitors to the Illuminations in 2016 alone

Reinvigorating The Community

. Delivering in partnership with the NSPCC the Better Start programme aimed at providing parental support and guidance to give children the best possible start in life

· Engaging with 45 schools on the HeadStart project to promote mental health resilience among our young people

· Opening the Health and Social Care Careers Academy to support those wanting to advance their careers in the sector

· Launching The Healthworks, bringing together employment, health and lifestyle advice to help local residents gain and sustain jobs, as well as supporting students with disabilities through the innovative Project Search programme

· Delivering almost 200 new council homes at Queens Park on the site of former tower blocks

· Improving property standards through rigorous enforcement via the selective licensing schemes

· Investing heavily in the environment including Marton Mere Local Nature Reserve; achievement of the first Blue Flag for water quality; and sea defences at Anchorsholme

· Investing in new gyms at Palatine and Moor Park and a high ropes adventure course at the award-winning Stanley Park

The Vision For The Future

The new Plan states that by 2024, the Council will:

· Complete the new 21st century conference offer at the Winter Gardens

· Finalise design and funding, then deliver the Blackpool Museum project

· Facilitate delivery of Blackpool Central, a £300m world-class visitor attraction featuring the UK’s first flying theatre

· Implement a new model of funding and delivery to sustain the Illuminations, events programme and cultural offer

· Complete the tram extension, transport interchange and new four-star hotel at Blackpool North Station

· Deliver extensions to the Central Business District at Talbot Gateway

· Implement the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone delivery plan, facilitating growth in the energy, aviation and food sectors

· Get hundreds of people back into work via job schemes for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged

· Deliver hundreds more affordable new homes

· Continue to improve life chances for 0-3 year-olds through the Better Start initiative

· Facilitate a school-led system that improves attainment at Key Stage 4

· Develop family hubs in local neighbourhoods to build community resilience

· Continue to make positive interventions to reduce smoking and increase numbers accessing drug and alcohol support services

· Start to deliver a Green and Blue infrastructure strategy to provide more green spaces across the town

· Reduce numbers of looked-after children in a safe and sustainable way

· Work in partnership to review the approach to delivering safeguarding and support for families

· Improve the co-ordination of volunteers across the town

· Stabilise communities through additional activity to regulate private sector housing, reduce supply and improve quality

The Council Plan for 2019-2024 will be presented to the Council Executive on January 21 and then will go for final adoption by full Council on January 30.

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