Blackpool is likened to Chernobyl as councillor says resort hotels need 'knocking down'

A cross-border row has broken out after Blackpool was likened to Chernobyl by a councillor from neighbouring Fylde during a debate about devolution.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 4:03 pm

Independent councillor Paul Hayhurst warned ‘prosperous’ Fylde faced being swallowed up by its bigger neighbour which “looks like Chernobyl no matter how much money you put in there.”

His comments, made during Fylde Council’s meeting on Monday, were branded ‘disrespectful’ and ‘sour grapes’ by Blackpool Council’s Labour leader Lynn Williams.

The resort regularly hosts children for holidays from Belarus, where families are still feeling the after effects of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.

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Coun Paul Hayhurst likened Blackpool to Chernobyl

Coun Hayhurst had spoken out against recommendations for Fylde to support plans for a Lancashire-wide deal which involves all the authorities in the county, including Blackpool, working together to bid for government funding.

He said: “I am convinced on that basis that the more co-operation we have with our neighbours down the road, the more this area is going to suffer.”

He added: “Our friends down the road, the bottomless pit, could swallow £5bn overnight and it would still look like Chernobyl.

“I am convinced that the more we show we are co-operating with Blackpool, the day is coming closer when Lytham St Annes will become part of greater Blackpool and the rural areas will disappear.”

Coun Hayhurst told the meeting: ”Blackpool needs probably half its hotels knocking down and instead of rebuilding on greenfield sites, it needs redeveloping because it’s never going to be the sort of place it was in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.”

He added Fylde was ‘a prosperous borough’ while Blackpool “looks like Chernobyl no matter how much money you put in there.”

But Coun Williams hit back and said Coun Hayhurst had clearly not visited the resort for a while.

In a statement in response to his outburst, she said: “The comment is very disappointing and ill informed.

“It’s also incredibly disrespectful to a neighbouring council at a time when, to deliver a great deal for all of the residents of Lancashire, we need to work together.

“So if this councillor wants to come to Blackpool, as he’s clearly not been for a while, we can show and explain all the many things we are doing to regenerate the town.

“We can start with our new state of the art conference and exhibition centre, Fylde don’t have one of those so I am sure he will enjoy having a look round.

“And I will look to the thousands of people who come to Blackpool every year , having seen the biggest increase in footfall across the country, including Fylde, so a bit of sour grapes probably.

“But most deplorably to make that connection with Chernobyl and our having that connection through the generosity of local charities and residents of Blackpool hosting children is just really deeply unpleasant and unnecessary. ”

Blackpool currently has a £1bn growth and prosperity programme with hundreds of millions of pounds of investment including new hotels, a conference centre, offices and a £300m leisure development.

Fylde Council voted to support the draft devolution deal for Lancashire, with Blackpool Council being recommended to support it at its full council meeting on Wednesday (February 9).

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