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BBLG supports 'Better Bus' bid

The Blackpool Business Leadership Group has thrown its weight behind a successful bid to the Government’s new Better Bus Area Fund.* The bid, which has been submitted by Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport, is primarily aimed at increasing the number of people visiting the town centre by improving bus services, better bus and tram information and improved on street facilities.

The business community has provided extensive support to the bid. In its supporting letter, the BBLG chairman Howard Lewis stated: “Whilst some progress has been made in developing Blackpool as a family destination, other sectors of our economy continue to struggle.”

“This is perhaps most vividly highlighted in the latest unemployment statistics that show Blackpool as having the worst unemployment rate in the North West, higher than traditional black spots such as Liverpool and Knowsley.”

“The proposed bid to the Better Bus Area Fund has the potential to help stimulate growth in Blackpool’s town centre and visitor economies, as well as giving job seekers better access to job opportunities in Blackpool and beyond.”

“Blackpool town centre continues to suffer a higher-than-average “leakage” to other town centres and it is vitally important that we stem this flow by making improvements that can help protect and grow the town centre economy.”

“It is the business community’s view that a reliable and high-quality public transport system is a fundamental part of this improvement process.”

“By providing a better overall service and ride experience to residents (and visitors) we believe there is real opportunity to re-engage with those who choose to shop or spend their discretionary spend elsewhere.”

“Even a small shift in shopper habits would have a very significant positive impact on the retail economy, and a spin-off benefit for the wider economy.”

“Similarly, the development of a strong commercial/office sector in the heart of Blackpool is key to the town’s future prosperity. Again, the provision of a high-quality public transport service is critical if we are to attract companies to move and invest here.”

* The £50m Better Bus Area Fund provides grants of up to £5m to a minimum of 10 local authorities working in partnership with local bus operators for them to spend in 2012-13.

The aim of the fund is to increase bus patronage in busy urban areas, whilst also stimulate economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.