Calls were made today to tidy up Blackpool Promenade amid claims town hall bosses have neglected lawns which were laid on two of the revamped headlands.
As these pictures show, sand and weeds have now started to encroach on the grass which was installed at St Chad’s and Waterloo headlands just four years ago.
After coming under fire for failing to keep a pledge to maintain the grass, town hall bosses today said steps were being taken to remedy the situation.
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet secretary, said: “I share residents’ concerns about the state of the grass on the Promenade and we are taking steps to improve the situation.
“The warm, wet weather we’ve had has led to accelerated growth and we accept action is needed.”
Waterloo councillor Derek Robertson, whose ward includes the headlands, said: “I think the council is neglecting the grassed areas which is bad because the Promenade is Blackpool’s shop front.
I think the council is neglecting the grassed areas which is bad because the Promenade is Blackpool’s shop front
“We want the area to be nicer, not for it to be run down.
“I know it is difficult in that environment, with the wind and sea air, but other seaside towns manage to have nice green areas near the seafront. The council needs to get rid of the weeds and make the area look better.”
Businessman Mark Yates, of Brooks Collectables on Waterloo Road, South Shore, said: “It is such a harsh environment with the salt and the weather that it needs constant maintenance and repair, and we know the council has had to cut millions from its budget.
“But the grassed headlands do now look untidy and unkempt. I know the parks department is stretched to the limit but the Promenade is Blackpool’s shop front.”
Hotelier Chris Aiken Graham, of the Queen Victoria Guest House on Station Road, South Shore, said: “It is a mess and there are lots of bald patches now.
“It needs tidying up and some grass seed putting down. The summer holidays are coming and it would be good to have it looking nice.
“Perhaps one solution would be to find out if there is a group of volunteers who might help to look after the area.”
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said he believed the council had to look at our-sourcing the work in order to be able to maintain the lawns.
He said: “More and more residents and councillors are complaining about the unkempt state of our grassed areas especially verges and parks.
“The council’s stock in trade response is that it’s all the fault of the ‘savage government cuts’ and whilst I agree these savings will create a tremendous challenge, some of the blame must be aimed at the lack of good management.
“The Central Prom grassed area is disgracefully neglected and this is an area that our visitors see and use first.
“Many councils including Northampton, Essex, Harrow and Gloucester have taken radical steps by outsourcing some council services to the private sector and in turn they have managed to save hundreds of jobs that have been transferred to new companies and at the same time continued to deliver an adequate level of service at a much lower cost.”
The lawns were laid in summer 2011 as part of the £1.5m upgrade of Waterloo and St Chad’s headlands.
At the time, the council pledged the area would be looked after amid concerns about the harsh environment on the seafront.
It was decided to lay grass after schemes originally earmarked for the headlands, which included £6.5m for a skateboard park, BMX area, a cafe and events space fell victim to funding cuts.
At the time Coun Graham Cain, who was then cabinet member for tourism on Blackpool Council told The Gazette the area “will be cleaned” and added the council would “have the grass cut on a regular basis to ensure it remains looking clean and tidy.”
Coun Cain today said the scheduled improvement work would be carried out in coming days.
He added: “Recognising the importance of ensuring the Promenade looks in top condition, we will also be increasing the frequency of the maintenance of the grass.
“However, while we accept that more could have been done to deal with this situation sooner, I have to remind people that in the last five years the council will have had to make savings of £93m.
“That is a mind-boggling amount of money and you simply cannot remove that amount of money from an organisation’s budget and the volume of staff we have had to lose and not expect to see an impact on front-line services.
“This is a prime example and a frustration to us all. Our staff are residents too and family people and they care about their work.
“They share people’s frustrations about the cuts that have led to this situation.”