Blackpool needs new job opportunities, inward investment, better transport links and the town smartening up after the General Election if it is to prosper.
That is the opinion of voters and serving councillors who have put together a wish list of issues that need tackling by whoever comes to power after the big vote on May 7.
Last night saw the deadline pass for nominations for election candidates and the people of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre will be looking to the would-be representatives to show what they can offer to the area should they get the vote.
So what matters to you ahead of polling day?
What should our candidates in the five Fylde constituencies be focusing on to get your vote?
Here are some views.
‘Need for hi-tech’
Hugh Evans from the Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said that the area must have new industry introduced to break the reliance on tourism and to bring in better paid and higher skilled jobs.
He said: “Tourism has traditionally been important but many of the jobs are low skill and low pay and you can’t build a strong economy on one thing alone.
“We need more hi-tech industry which means a better skilled workforce and better pay which can feed into the rest of the local economy.
“Two ways to achieve this are by making sure that we take full advantage of the opportunities that shale gas and the new enterprise zone will bring to the area. A longer term ambition is to make the town and the Fylde the “Energy Coast” of the UK.”
‘Time to tidy up’
Hotelier Mick Grewcock, who runs the Burbage Lodge and Queen’s Mansions businesses, said tidying up the streets and getting rid of houses of multiple occupancy should be one of the priorities if Blackpool is going to improve its image.
He said: “I run four and five star accommodation but just around the corner are a couple of multiple occupancy buildings and they make the area look run down. The people who live in that kind of place do not work and bring nothing to the local economy. That has to change.
“If the area is not attractive people won’t want to bring their business here. My dentist was saying it has been difficult to attract new dentists to the practice because Blackpool is not seen as an attractive place to come and work in
“We need people working in proper jobs, earning proper money and spending it locally to boost the economy.”
‘Town has done good work’
Ian Hawkins, boss at Merlin, which operates some of the biggest attractions on the Golden Mile, said one of the big issues that politicians needed to tackle in Blackpool was VAT on tourism which he said if cut could see the resort prosper and create more jobs.
He said: “We have put forward Blackpool as a potential pilot resort for a trail to see how cutting the VAT on tourism would go. It would boost the economy and lead to more jobs being created.
“Another issue is for further improvement to the Central Business District. Blackpool has done a lot of great work in recent years on improving the attractions and improving the accommodation with new hotels coming in but we need to move it forward.”
‘We must tackle benefits’
Rick Taylor, who runs the Regent emporium in Church Street, said: “We need to do something about the large number of people on benefits and out of work in Blackpool
“It is a very difficult issue to tackle but it must be done. “Some people are second generation on benefits and they just don’t know what it is to have work in the family.
“Being in work gives you self respect, independence, more money, the ability to stand on your own two feet and be accountable to no one. And if more people were working then they would be putting more money into the local economy.
“Blackpool still has a bit of a reputation for stags and hens and alcohol issues which put families off coming. Whoever is in power needs to address that. Blackpool has a lot going for it so we need to promote what is best and tackle the issues which put people off.”
‘Help for ex-service men’
A war hero who lost both his legs in an bomb blast in Afghanistan has called for more help for Armed Forces veterans.
Sgt Rick Clement, 35, from South Shore: “I would like to see the Armed Forces covenant better enforced to help soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder, improve treatment times across the NHS and create homes for the homeless to live in rather than being on the streets.”
Peter Flynn, 43, of Preston New Road, Blackpool, said: “I want to see us go on tighter immigration routes to stop people sponging off the system.
Nigel Hurst, 44, of Newton Drive, Blackpool said: “I would like to improvements to the road network and more police on the streets.”
Shopkeeper Susanne Johnson said promoting the high streets, boosting Blackpool’s image and encouraging stronger links with other countries such as China should be among the priorities for the new politicians.
She said: “I believe strongly in the high street, not just the main shopping areas which are great, but the other areas in town, the ones the tourists see and just behind the Promenade, the ones the local people use.
“If we can work to improve these areas, get empty shops filled and get people supporting them then it will create jobs and benefit everyone.
“We also need to change how we think and talk about Blackpool.
“If some of the things said about Blackpool were said about Liverpool, the people there would be up in arms and defending their city.
“Blackpool has many wonderful things going for it and we need to celebrate that. “We are the sixth most popular destination on Trip Advisor so why should people talk about us negatively?
“We have got a delegation coming from China to visit next week and I think we need to do more to build ties with China and other countries.
“Other towns have built strong ties with China where a lot of people have a lot of money and that can only help the economy so we need to be more forward thinking in that respect.”
Martin Hunns, chairman of Cleveleys traders forum, said he would like to see infrastructure improved upon to encourage people to visited to seaside town.
He said: “I’ve always campaigned on coach parking for Cleveleys but it’s never happened, businesses are finding it hard because they aren’t coming anymore and parking has always been a main problem for the town.”
And he hopes to see more support for small local businesses.
‘We need better roads and housing’
Lynne Harling, 57
I would like to see more care workers for the elderly and help for people on the breadline and for youngsters trying to get on the property ladder.
Kay Dawson, 54
I would like to see more bins and a crackdown on people drinking in public. We needto see more police officers on the streets.
Brian Clarkson, 75
Blackpool needs to be cleaned up, more police on the streets and drunkeness controlled.
A lot of problems are to do with substance abuse and I would like to see something done about some of the atrocious rented properties in the town.
Nick Kay, 28,
Lower tax, less empty B&Bs in the town and a lot more money spent on the roads.
Spend less money on the Prom and more on the people of Blackpool. Get rid of the empty rental accommodation.
Joan Waters, 66
Better roads, more jobs and parents should be allowed to take their children out of school for holidays.
I’d like to see more jobs, better housing facilities and less immigration.
Peter Anthony (Cons)
Lawrence Chard (Ind)
Bill Greene (Lib Dem)
Andy Higgins (Ind)
Gordon Marsden (Lab)
Duncan Royle (Green)
Peter Wood (UKIP)
Blackpool South has been represented by Labour MP Gordon Marsden since 1997.
But his majority was substantially reduced at the 2010 General Election when he won the seat with a margin of 1,852 votes – compared to 7,922 at the previous election.
Marsden’s share of the vote dropped from just more than 50 per cent in 2005 to just over 41 per cent.
Turnout in 2010 was 35,192 – Swing -6.2
Blackpool North and Cleveleys
Sue Close (Lib Dem)
Paul Maynard (Cons)
Simon Noble (UKIP)
Samuel Rushworth (Lab)
John Warnock (Green)
Blackpool North and Cleveleys saw the Conservatives gaining the seat from Labour, although there had been a change to the constituency boundaries.
Previously Labour’s Joan Humble had represented Blackpool North and Fleetwood since 1997.
However, she stood down in 2010, and Labour’s new candidate Penny Martin lost out to Paul Maynard, who achieved a majority of 2,150.
Turnout in 2010 was 40,591, with the swing to the Conservatives +6.9
Elizabeth Clarkson (Northern Party)
Bob Dennett (Green)
Mike Hill (Ind)
Mark Menzies (Cons)
Jed Sullivan (Lab)
Freddie Van Mierlo (Lib Dem)
Paul White (UKIP)
The Conservatives held onto Fylde in 2010, with Mark Menzies retaining the seat for the Tories following the decision by sitting MP Michael Jack to step down after representing the constituency since 1987.
Fylde is a true blue Tory stronghold having been Conservative since the constituency was formed in 1918.
In 2010 Menzies scooped 22,826 votes - a majority of 13,185.
Turnout in 2010 was 43,690, with the swing +4.5
Matthew Atkins (UKIP)
Chris Coates (Green)
Harold Elletson (Ind)
Robin Long (Lib Dem)
Eric Ollernshaw (Con)
Catherine Smith (Lab)
Boundary changes put Fleetwood in with Lancaster in 2010.
Eric Ollerenshaw secured the seat for the Conservatives with a margin of 333 votes, making it the 20th smallest majority in Britain.
Ollerenshaw took 36.1 per cent of the votes, just ahead of Labour’s Clive Grunshaw.
Turnout in 2010 was 42,701 with the swing to the Conservatives -4.8
Wyre and Preston North
John Potter (Lib Dem)
Anne Power (Green Party Stop Fracking Now)
Ben Wallace (Cons)
Kate Walsh (UKIP)
Ben Whittingham (Lab)
Wyre and Preston North was a newly created seat in 2010.
It was won by Ben Wallace for the Conservatives, who had previously been MP for the former seat of Wyre and Lancaster since 2005.
Wallace won with a majority of 15,844, which was 52.4 per cent of the votes.
Turnout in 2010 was 51,308.
Call for investment
Councillor’s and MPs should live in the constituencies they serve. We need an indoor multi-function arena. This would bring trade tourism and investment to the town.
Return the bus station to its former use, that being a bus station.
The powers that be need to give serious thought to encouraging a more mixed economy in the Blackpool area which offers people jobs which are available 365 days a year. Sure, leisure and tourism has its place given the town’s heritage, but its not the be all and end all of the economy. People can’t survive on seasonal jobs and signing on for 5-6 months.
Create a business rate free zone in all town centres, except for bookies, off licenses, brand leaders and night clubs. Make town centre parking free in all town centres.
Finally do not allow boring buildings to be developed and systematically redesign the theme of the Fylde, with an emphasis on down sizing, quality and life.
Trams to Lytham would be a great step forward. Would regenerate the South Fylde line too. Also regeneration of Central Drive area.
Return of commercial flights at Blackpool Airport, and absolutely the extension of the tramway to Lytham and St Annes. This would solve so many transport problems.
The Government needs to invest money in regeneration of the whole of the Fylde coast (not just Blackpool) to create/stimulate commercial business.
Until such times as the economy gets moving again and sufficient employment opportunities are created no further housing should be built (the Government is currently trying to meet the UK housing needs by building in places where there are no jobs). Once the economy starts to pick up, housing schemes can be implemented.
‘Boosting our image’
Blackpool’s local politicians have singled out boosting the town’s image, housing and new investment as priorities should they be lucky enough to win the vote from the people of the resort next month.
Simon Blackburn, leader of the Labour group on Blackpool Council, said better housing, better behaviour and improving education were among five priorities for Blackpool.
He said: “Blackpool Labour’s manifesto is based on the issues which the people of the town tell us are important to them.
“We have to balance these huge levels of need against the fact the Conservative Government has taken £68m off the people of Blackpool in the last five years, and plan to take another £58m”.
Boosting the economy and cleaning up the streets are two further priorities in a five-pronged manifesto.
Better housing standards will be achieved, he said, by investing £25m of Treasury funding into the private sector housing market, and acting to “kick out” bad landlords and bad tenants, while new licensing powers would be used to stamp out drunkeness on the streets.
Conservative group leader Tony Williams said he wanted to be more proactive in bring new investment into the town to create much needed jobs outside tourism, while a central interchange was also needed to create better public transport links.
He said: “The free breakfast offer (to all primary schools, funded by the council) is costing £1.3m per year.
“We need a complete public review of this to ensure it’s efficient with no wastage.
“I will introduce a more effective legion of community enforcement in conjunction with private businesses to ensure better behaviour and control.
“Blackpool is the party capital of the UK and we must balance that with a family offer but we mustn’t lose the essential millions of pounds that parties bring to the town – it’s a matter of good management and control.”
Douglas Green, of Blackpool Liberal Democrats, said he wanted to see more co-operation between the three councils on the Fylde coast in order to make savings and have more clout when it came to attracting investment.
He said: “We would look to combine our services with other authorities to give a fairer and more equitable system across the whole of the Fylde coast.
“We have to look at working together Fylde-wide to attract in more industry to the area.”