Blackpool-born peer Lord McNally has long championed the needs of the resort – and now he hopes a House of Lords report will act as a catalyst for further transformation.
Lord McNally has helped compile a select committee report into the future of seaside towns, published on April 4, which puts Blackpool at the centre of a raft of recommendations to government.
It will hopefully be the subject of a House of Lords debate in the summer, while pressure will also be put on ministers to respond to calls for action.
The evidence collected during the investigation will also boost Blackpool’s hopes of securing a town deal, levering money in from a £1.6bn pot of government cash set aside for the scheme.
Lord McNally said: “There is no magic formula but I hope the report indicates the really good impression Blackpool made on the select committee when we visited the town.
“The key recommendation to government is that commitment in terms of money has to be long term.
“Doling money out in small packages has no chance of taking root. Regeneration also has to be locally led, and Blackpool has shown that in spades.
“Blackpool showed itself to have ideas, and also reflected in the report is that Blackpool has had to take on a disproportionate weight of social problems which have had an impact on its services.
“I think we went as far as would could to make it clear Blackpool is first in the queue for a town deal.
“Wherever we went we saw problems similar to those facing Blackpool but I don’t think anywhere had them on the same type of scale.
“So if government gave priority to Blackpool, it’s not that they are not helping other towns but rather they are learning lessons which will be applicable elsewhere.”
Investing in technology could be key and the council is in line to secure £2.7m of government funding for fibre network infrastructure running along the length of the tramway line.
Lord McNally added: “Cornwall and Brighton have invested in technical hubs which give young people opportunities.
“What built Blackpool was not government, but innovations like the Tower, Pleasure Beach and the trams.
“It’s that kind of get up and go that’s needed now in the digital age.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden gave evidence last October to the committee including in his role as chairman of Parliament’s all party tourism group.
He highlighted the need for more skills training, apprenticeships in hospitality and health and social care, and help for small business start-ups, and said he had also spoken to the relevent government ministers about the need for action.
Mr Marsden said: “I hope the report will get proper air time to be debated in the House of Lords but we also need to have a further debate in Parliament on the back of it.
“We will benefit from that exposure as the lords have singled us out as a potential roll out scheme for other areas.
“This is about seeing coastal towns in the same way as industrial towns or rural areas that have their own particular needs which have not always been addressed by government departments.
“We also don’t want it to get lost by government departments pushing it between them, so we need to keep the pressure up.”