New jobs boost for port

Trial delayed: Plans for a hovercraft service from Blackpool have been put on hold until at least next year
Trial delayed: Plans for a hovercraft service from Blackpool have been put on hold until at least next year

New investment in businesses in Fleetwood has given the port a welcome jobs boost at a time many retailers are still struggling.

Eight jobs have been created with the arrival of a new store on Anchorage Road and the recent extension at Aldi, on Poulton Road.

With traders still reeling from a drop in footfall that has been blamed on cuts to concessionary tram fares, Wigan-based fashion retailer Chums is reporting strong trade since opening its doors last month.

Bosses at the newly opened Fleetwood store, only the second in the growing chain, say they are now looking at ways to build on their successful launch, which brought three jobs to the town.

Antony Eden, head of marketing at Chums, said: “We’re very happy with the new store since opening and it’s 
performing well. Over the next few months we’ll be looking to increase exposure in the area and drive local traffic to the shop.

“We wanted to initially focus on our doorstep in the North West, and we know through research that a large number of our catalogue and online shoppers live within a close proximity to the store.”

Meanwhile, Aldi bosses cited growing demand as the reason behind the extension to the Poulton Road store, which brought an additional five jobs to the port. The shop, which opened in 1994, now measures 1,125 m sq.

But Derek Eaton, chairman of the Fleetwood Chamber of Trade, warned many businesses are still suffering because of the decision to scrap free tram travel for pensioners in Wyre.

While he welcomed any boost to the local economy, he said the town still needs to find a way to get people back on the trams.

He said: “Generally speaking, trade is way down and the main reason for that is that many of the people who would shop here live in Cleveleys.

“If we could get 7,000 extra passengers on the trams a week, paying £1, that would be £350,000 a year.

“It’s a staggering amount of money – and not beyond the realm of possibility.”

Blackpool Council pulled its funding for non-residents in a move thought to be worth around £180,000. Despite calls to bring back concessionary travel in Wyre, no deal has yet been reached.

Discussions between Lancashire County Council, which is the transport authority for Wyre, and Wyre Council over a possible joint funding arrangement have so far come to nothing.