Paul Hayhurst’s comments were slammed as ‘disrespectful’ by Blackpool Council’s leader after he compared the seaside resort to an irradiated wasteland
A spat has broken out after a councillor said Blackpool looked like Chernobyl, drawing a stinging response from the resort’s leadership.
Councillor Paul Hayhurst (independent) of neighboring Fylde Borough Council warned in a meeting that his ‘prosperous’ area risked being swallowed up by its bigger neighbor which “looks like Chernobyl no matter how much money you put in there.”
His comparison of the seaside resort to an irradiated wasteland was branded ‘disrespectful’ and ‘sour grapes’ by Blackpool Council’s Labor leader Lynn Williams.
Blackpool regularly plays host to parties of children from Belarus, where families are still suffering from the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Councilor Hayhurst made the comments during a Flyde Council debate about devolution on Monday. He argued Flyde should not support a bid for government funding if it meant cooperating with neighboring Blackpool, reports Lancs Live.
He said: “I am convinced on that basis that the more co-operation we have with our neighbors 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 neighboring 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 program 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 Wednesda).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.