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Issue:- 10 October 2014

Shock as Blackpool Airport Closes

THE loss of Blackpool Airport comes as a massive blow to the North West and will have far more of an effect on the region than most might think. "We expect that the last commercial flights will take place on Wednesday, 15 October 2014. Airport operations have been making a loss for a number of years." says Blackpool's owner, Balfour Beatty, this week. Oddly Blackpool, this year, was voted 3rd Best Airport out of 35 regional airport by the Which?, so it is shocking that no one wanted to buy it, but it goes to show that "being loved does not equate to being financial viable". According to Balfour Beatty this old wartime aerodrome has seen 40% drop over 5 years in passenger numbers and its losses are unsustainable. The airport requires major investment if it is to survive, but Balfour Beatty is a construction firm has a reported £75m hole in its accounts. However, that hole in the accounts alongside the fact that this is a construction firm has raised a few suspicions that, with the push to build new houses, this possibly might be the true motive and not simply the fact it is losing money. Yes, a major investment could be done to save it; it really has potential if someone was willing to take the plunge. Currently the airport can only accommodate 1.5m passengers each year in comparison to the 191,000 people who pass through Heathrow's 5 terminals every single day. So putting this into context of UK aviation as a whole, Blackpool should not affect the major airports too much whether saved or not. However, if it were to be used correctly, it could relieve up some of the stress on capaCity in the UK as a whole. Some locally have asked why the airport that has good road connections didn't focus more on freight transportation over passenger services. This they attribute to the fact that Blackpool has had a massive cut in transportation links, like rail services over the years and so, it is cited as one of its major flaws. Manchester Airport is now the 3rd busiest airport in the UK and busiest of the non-London airports, and it is struggling to keep up with demand. Liverpool wants to expand, but has problems with space. If a buyer can step in and save Blackpool, it could be possible for it to turn a corner given a lot of investment on all sides. Sadly, no matter what, as it currently stands, the airport has been losing money and the present owners are adamant that they are no longer prepared to sustain the airport's losses. Currently Balfour Beatty remains the owner of the Blackpool Airport site and said publicly that:- "We will continue to work with the independent aviation businesses currently operating from our site, to develop a sustainable future for aviation services. We will also support the local Councils who are working together to develop regeneration plans for the area, which are designed to generate future employment and sustainable economic development opportunities for Blackpool and the Fylde." One of the options being talked about is that the area could be turned into a technology park or a business park. Interestingly, the North West Air Ambulance has 1 of their 3 helicopters based at the airport, so it could see them move to RAF Woodvale, should the airport be lost fully. Currently Head of fundraising for the charity, Jenny Haskey, has told the media that:- "We want to reassure the public that whatever happens we have a number of measures in place and our service will not be affected." We are waiting for a full press release from them about what they intend to do next. Citywing who operated flights to the Isle of Man and Belfast from Blackpool have said that they are "in discussions to find a way to re-open the airport." Like Jet2 it suspended its flights to Blackpool. In a statement Jet2 said:- "We are saddened and disappointed to hear about Blackpool's closure. As a result we have had to move all flights scheduled to depart from and return to Blackpool Airport, to Manchester Airport instead." Now many businesses in Blackpool have said that they fear that without an airport, the already struggling town will suffer further. But what effect will this have on Merseyside? Can Liverpool Airport capitalise on it situation and what lessons are to be learned? Will the loss affect the Southport Air Show and the Blackpool Air Shows? Also, should we take note of what some locals in Blackpool are saying when they blame the local Council for abandoning what they see as a "Key asset", the airport, after selling it off, back in 2005 when "they didn't listen to the local businesses." Are there any lessons to be learned by Southport from this? As, according to some locals in Blackpool, it shows that national transportation links are extremely vital for a town, and not just an airport. Many grumble that the Council had wrongly invested. They say that the £11m they had put into a new 4 star Holiday Inn Hotel, in a bid to attract political party conferences back to the resort could have been far better spent on its infrastructure. Most pointing out that Blackpool will inevitably struggle against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester, who can offer far better infrastructure and far bigger venues, and the loss of Blackpool Airport will further damage its competitive status. Interestingly, the managing director of Pool Aviation (NW) Ltd. Simon Menzies, has told the media that:- "The airport is part of the infrastructure of the area like schools, hospitals or roads and should be embraced as such; something that often gets overlooked." Should Southport take note? Are our Councils on Merseyside overlooking our infrastructure and heritage in a similar way and investing in the wrong things? Email your thoughts on Blackpool Airport airports closure. Will its closure have any noticeable affects Merseyside and the North West in the future? Email us to:-, with your thoughts and views on this topic and the questions raised.

Parking permit changes proposed

NEW charges are being proposed for parking permits in Liverpool. The City Council is putting forward plans to create a fairer system which will allow it to carry on with its existing residents parking schemes.

Liverpool City Council will begin public consultation on the proposed new charges on 9 October 2014. There will be a number of consultations and the first phase focuses on parking around Anfield and Goodison Park stadiums (Football Matchday Parking Zone).

Operating permit schemes costs the Council in the region of £850k a year and the new charges aim to help the City Council make the most of limited resources by contributing to the costs of running, maintaining and administering schemes in the future.

The charges also aim to respond to increasing demand for residents' parking spaces by helping reduce the number of vehicles parked on street, making it easier for residents to find a parking place, reducing congestion and improving road safety.

The introduction of charges is in line with other local authorities. Of the seven other major English cities outside London, five already charge for residents' permits with the charges ranging from free to £750.

Under the proposals the following new charges and permits would be introduced:-

►  Residents permits – each household will get their first permit for free, with charges for a second permit (£40 per year), a third permit (£60 per year) and fourth and further permits (£100 per year).

►  Visitor permits – £40-a-year charge will be introduced for visitor permits, limited to one per household. This will be free if no resident permit has been applied for.

►  Business permits – businesses that regularly require a vehicle can apply for one business permit which will cost £50 a year.

►  Trade permits – new, temporary permits will be introduced to allow contractors and other traders to park in residents bays outside the City Centre. A daily permit will be £6 and a weekly permit £35.

►  Landlord's permit – a new permit for landlords who regularly need to visit their properties within residents' parking schemes outside the City Centre. This permit is already in use in other parts of the City and is being rolled out. A new charge of £50 will apply.

►  Relocation permit - a new permit, it aims to resolve difficulties residents face when first moving into a property within a parking permits zone. The temporary permit will be valid for one month and will cost £50.

Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said:- "It's been a number of years since we have made changes to parking permits, but faced with having to make a further £156m of cuts, we need to do things differently if we want to continue running and enforcing schemes efficiently.  The City Council heavily subsidises reserved parking places and we need to make sure these schemes start to pay for themselves. We think, by providing the first permit for free for residents, and then introducing charges to people who want further permits we can deliver a fairer system and make it easier for residents, and their visitors, to find a parking place near to their home."

In addition to the new charges for permits, football parking zones will also see the introduction of additional charges. The on street 'free' bays around Anfield and Goodison Park stadiums will be converted into 'pay by phone' bays.

People who wish to park in these bays during the football season will be required to pay a charge of £6, using their mobile phone. The charge will also apply to residents, visitors and businesses who wish to park in these bays.

Councillor Kennedy added:- "The introduction of new charges for on-street football parking is another way in which we are trying to make our parking schemes safer and improve traffic management. We know the build up of vehicles in residential areas, with fans driving up and down streets looking for parking spaces on match days causes major frustrations for local people, and these proposed changes would play an important part in tackling this problem. These proposals are not connected in any way with football stadium developments. It is something we have been considering for some time and we will also be consulting in other residents parking zones."

The new charging model for permits forms part of a major City wide review of the City's parking operations, which saw the cost of parking at City Centre pay-and-display bays cut by almost 10% in 2012, with an even bigger reduction at Mount Pleasant car park. Maximum parking times at City Centre pay and display bays were also increased from 2 hours to 4.

Details on consultations in the other residents parking schemes will be released in the near future.

Full details of the Football Matchday Parking Zone proposals will be available at online from 9 October 2014. 

Vintage Fair returns to The Town Hall

ON Saturday, 11 October 2014, we're bringing our fabulous Vintage Fashion Market back to The Town Hall in Liverpool. Between 10:30 and 4:30 you'll be able to listen to live music whilst enjoying afternoon tea, get creative at the vintage inspired workshop and visit the beauty parlour, who will be ready to curl, quiff and roll your hair into a pinup worthy style.  Autumn is the perfect time for revamping your wardrobe, so why not dive on in to the vintage world this season? Lucky for you (especially thrifty students!) our vintage traders will be offering bang on trend vintage goodies for way less than the high street. Britain Does Vintage are winners of an 'Outstanding Customer Service' Award, organisers Alex and Sam aim to make everybody feel welcome from the moment they reach the entry desk. So you'll be met with a smile! "Our first Liverpool fair was a huge hit!" says Sam Agnew from Britain Does Vintage "With even more on offer this time around, you definitely won't want to miss us!"  For more details visit:-

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