Sunday, September 18, 2005


Britan's Premier Holiday Resort

Following a six hour car journey from Torbay - Britain’s premier holiday resort – the greeting at the end of the M55 was ‘Welcome to Blackpool – Britain’s premier holiday resort’. The first challenge of the week is to find out who’s telling the truth.

It’s 15 years since I last visited the town and not much has changed. The older buildings reflect the glory of their Victorian heyday. Architecturally fascinating but sadly many are now falling to bits or in need of major renovation. They sit alongside more modern sixties mono-culture constructions with no architectural or other merit at all.

This is a sad place that has lost its heart. Cheap drinks and tacky gift shops can be found in every seaside resort but usually there is something else on offer as well. For what I’ve seen so far, that’s it. My constituency is in need of an injection of cash to help it retain its status as an attractive place to visit. Blackpool looks like it needs a major transplant and perhaps a super casino is the answer here.

Yet the visitors seem happy as they stagger from one drinking establishment to another picking their way round the pools of urine and vomit that appear on the streets after dark.

Older visitors stay out of the town centre and enjoy the illuminations – they are good and the reason why the town is not overrun entirely with stag and hen parties.

But we’re here too. The Liberal Democrat Conference and the hundreds of others who attend to report on our proceedings or influence our deliberations. This is a town that can still attract the largest conferences in the calendar and offer a wide range of accommodation to suit all pockets and tastes. Bournemouth is nicer, Brighton better and Torquay always warmer, but this is brash Blackpool and even if it doesn’t work for me, it works for some.
I am now pretty clear I know which one is the premier resort today and it is not Blackpool

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