Massage parlours still operate in '˜uplift' area of Blackpool

Business owners working in the shadow of a multi-million pound regeneration of Blackpool town centre say the money has failed to lift the surrounding area.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:57 pm
The Talbot Gateway
The Talbot Gateway

Traders on Cookson Street, which is home to a series of massage parlours, have seen little difference following the investment in the Talbot Gateway Project.

Council chiefs admitted the Central Business District has so far failed to clean up the resort as massage parlours and sex shops continue to thrive.

It had been hoped the first phase of the Talbot Gateway project including new council offices and a Sainsbury’s supermarket would spark investment in surrounding areas.

Cookson Street, particularly when it leads on to the Talbot Gateway development area.

But business owners on Cookson Street said that has not happened and massage parlours were still operating on the street.

Andrew Clayton, of Clayton’s Jewellers, said: “We’re only here during the day, so I don’t know what goes on at night and certainly if I lived in the area I wouldn’t want them to be here.

“But while I don’t condone it, the alternative would probably be more empty shops and rundown premises.

“Ideally we wouldn’t want them there but our customers know what is on our doorstep.

Coun. Simon Blackburn

“I think what would help attract more new businesses and offices to this part of town would be cheaper parking or some sort of free parking.”

Cookson Street is one of the main routes through Blackpool town centre but is also at the heart of Blackpool’s sex trade.

Shane Capper, of Elm Computers, said: “We’ve not seen any investment trickle down into this area.

“We get free business rates from the council because so many nearby shops are closed down.

Cookson Street, particularly when it leads on to the Talbot Gateway development area.

“The massage parlours don’t affect my business. I’ve been here 28 years so my customers are people who have been here before.

“I’m not sure what it’s like at night but in the day I don’t really see anything at all.”

Blackpool Council has also been urged to clarify that an update to its policy on the number of sex-based businesses allowed to operate in the town is not a ‘relaxation’ of the rules.

After the council’s Sex Establishment Policy 2016 was amended to take into account new national legislation, Coun Maxine Callow said: “This is a family town.

Coun. Simon Blackburn

“I know we want to have something for all our visitors and some people do want to go to places like this.

“But can we be assured there is no relaxation of the policy?”

The number of sex shops allowed in the central wards of Bloomfield, Claremont and Talbot remains at two, no sex cinemas will be allowed to operate and the number of sexual entertainment venues is still four.

None will be allowed in other wards.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said there had been no relaxing of controls, but added concerns remained about sex workers operating on Cookson Street.

He said: “My fond hope had been once the Central Business District was up and running in a meaningful way that landlords on Cookson Street would be seeking higher rents for their properties than these establishments are willing to pay.

“We can see that hasn’t happened yet. The fact these businesses are so obviously present is I’m sure a concern for a number of people.”

He said talks were being held with the police and community to find a solution which would also ensure sex workers were able to operate in a safe environment.

Another trader, who asked not to be named, said: “Sainsbury’s has made no difference to the footfall in this area.

“We have not seen any trickle down of investment.

“But I’m not worried about the massage parlours. In fact I think we’re less likely to get burgled because people are on the streets 24 hours a day.”