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Progress?In 'The Dust Settles' we promised our readers to keep a watching brief on what the new Conservative administration was doing in Blackpool. With our own Dear Leader getting ever closer to both Blackpool and Wyre in order to mask the incompetence of his own administration, we think the time is not far away when he starts to promote the idea a full merger with our bright and brash neighbour up the road.

He is already well on the way with Wyre (as you can see in Wylde Fyreworks).

Blackpool is changing. Maybe it's just because the new administration couldn't make it much worse, or maybe they have a genuine desire to get Blackpool back to being somewhere that people will return. But whatever it is, you can detect change. And at the moment, it feels like change for the better.

But it's not our Commissar's sort of 'better'. Not modernisation for the sake of it. Not a desire to free himself of the shackles of tradition. Quite the opposite, in fact.

What we have seen in Blackpool so far, is a return to proper, reliable, traditional civic values.

We have seen the start of a plan to clear professional beggars from cashpoints and streets. We have seen the some quite senior police folk chastised (in the nicest possible way) for being too soft, and too slow to act on this problem. You can see Blackpool's leadership is having none of the prevarication and bleeding heart stories used in defence of these psychological muggers that are keeping more honest folk out of town. We have even seen proper policemen from HQ at Hutton attending meetings with local officers and Blackpool's politicians about the need to get on top of this problem. And afterwards, we have seen united and nondescript quotations from the politicians involved, such as: "We welcome the opportunity to work together for Blackpool's benefit"

Reading between these over-polite, and nondescript lines, what you can infer here, is that a good bout of oral kicking has taken place to get things moving.

And they are now.

We have also seen the Council engage in slightly more sedate, but nonetheless positive, moves to reduce the scale and scope of the Stag and Hen culture that has so damaged Blackpool.

Then came the announcement that the Council's own rules were to be changed, and future Mayors would be required to wear the traditional red robes. Furthermore, the silly and short-sighted strapline "Blackpool - where people come first" is to be abandoned in favour of the proper Civic Arms and the town's real strapline 'Progress'

(As an aside at this point, we always thought the "Where people come first" quote was a dangerous quote to use. Apart from making it seem like a cheap van hire operation (remember "Mitchells self drive - where people come first"), it was a source of amazement to us that neither Fylde Nor Wyre picked up the idea and used something like "Fylde - where people come back" in their own publicity.)

However, despite this (welcome) direction of Blackpool's travel - we're not advocating that Fylde should join with Blackpool anytime soon. The culture (beliefs, attitudes and values) in Blackpool and Fylde remain wholly irreconcilable. That's not intended to convey any sense of misplaced egalitarianism or elitism, it's just based on the simple recognition that the demographics and socio-economic profiles of our residents are hugely different, to the extent that they simply don't mesh well at all.

That said, you can see the direction in which Blackpool seems to be moving, and it is undoubtedly positive. There's still a long way to go, but all journeys begin with the first step, and the direction is right.

Then, in late October, we saw the most forthright political quote we have seen for many a year.

"Not Good Enough", said Blackpool's Peter Callow, in a Gazette headline.

He was reported as launching a "blistering attack" on Leisure Parcs who currently run the Winter Gardens and the Opera House - amongst other facilities in the town.

When we saw this headline, our reaction was "Good! About time! He is exactly right!". The successive owners of these iconic buildings have creamed profits out of them instead of re-investing, and they have ripped-off the people of Blackpool in a multi-million pound subsidy deal that was badly conceived by a former Council, and has been ravenous in its execution by the owners. It seems the Council is waking up to the situation and wants something done. We wish them well.

If this is the tone for Blackpool's future, then maybe it has one.

Dated:  7 November 2007


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