BLOOMFIELD IS an area comprising a section of the Promenade enclosed at the bottom by the north side of Waterloo Road and top by the south side of Chapel Street, and extends east to the western side of Central Drive. A section enclosed by the north side of Ashton Road, south of Palatine Road and west of Park Road is also included. It is an area of relative deprivation comprising high density residential housing, former industrial property, some tourism related retail and some holiday accommodation.
Some areas of note are Festival Park, comprising an Odeon multiscreen cinema, McDonalds, Bannatyne’s Fitness Centre and various other units; Rigby Road tram depot; the former Illuminations depot; Central Coach Station and masses of car parking; Central Gateway and climbing towers (upside down V shapes visible to the right on the above picture); Blackpool FC’s football stadium (centre of the picture); Manchester Square and a soon-to-be housing development of 400 homes in the former Mecca (green hoardings to the left of Blackpool FC)/Tyldesley Road area if the council can find a developer willing to build them.
The Promenade of Bloomfield had significant money spent on it during the previous Conservative council, with the creation of St. Chad’s and Waterloo headlands as well as the modernisation of the walkways and beach access (some of this is visible in the picture at the top).
The Foxhall area, a former tourist mecca which had various masterplans including a Mediterranean style makeover attached to it during the previous Conservative council, is enclosed within the boundaries of Bloomfield ward. The brown building behind the yellow tram in the picture at the top is the former Foxhall pub (now Reflex).
Bloomfield has a population of 7,289 residents of which 51.4% are men and 48.6% women. In terms of resident numbers Bloomfield is the third largest ward in Blackpool, behind Brunswick and Claremont. The smallest ward is Bispham, with 6,121 residents.
In 2009/10 Bloomfield saw 2,392 reports of antisocial behaviour (1 report for every 3.3 residents), and was the third worst ward behind Talbot (2,517 reports) and Claremont (2,523 reports). There are 14 CCTV cameras in Bloomfield compared with 58 in Brunswick and 50 in neighbouring Talbot.
The ward had a 26.47% turnout in the 2011 local elections, which was the lowest turnout of all wards (the highest for 2011 were Anchorsholme and Norbreck with around 48%). The low turnout didn’t stop Labour’s Mary Smith and Graham Cain romping to victory with a clear majority but historically it has not been so clear-cut and even saw the Liberal Democrats hold a seat in the ward for a period, with the Conservatives not far behind.
Bloomfield had a turnout of 29% in 2007 which again was the lowest turnout, having fallen from 43.5% in 2003 when Simon Blackburn made his political debut (assisted on the ground by none other than Tasurraf Shah).
Of course, a low turnout means that even a few votes can make a massive difference.
In this by-election there are two seasoned political campaigners who will stand anywhere in order to get power, and two newcomers who have never appeared as candidates before.
John Jones – Labour
- Distance from ward: 4.3miles
- Election history: 2009 Stanley by-election, 2011 Stanley, 2012 Bloomfield by-election
John is Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden’s man on the ground. A political man through-and-through, he stood for Labour both in the 2009 Stanley by-election and the full local election in 2011. Whilst on both occasions John failed to get elected, he and Labour almost managed the impossible in unseating a Tory from Stanley ward.
John lives out in the country in leafy Staining, which isn’t even in a Blackpool ward, so it is little wonder he used to leave his address blank on the signing in sheet for the Stanley PACT meetings that he attended when he was standing there.
He was a hotelier in Bloomfield for ‘a number of years’, and has been Gordon Marsden’s office manager ‘for many years’. Does John have any connection with Bloomfield now?
Interestingly, in an article on the Unite union website which describes how the militant union has infiltrated the ranks at Blackpool Airport, John Jones is referred to as a ‘Blackpool Councillor’ and was even invited in this capacity to open a staff Learning Centre at Blackpool Airport. Jumping the gun a bit!
On his Labour site, John says;
I am extremely proud to have been chosen to represent Labour in Bloomfield. If elected I promise to represent all those living in the ward. Labour has a proud record in Bloomfield and we want to continue the good work that has been done and strive to make everyone’s lives that much better.
Sue Close – Liberal Democrat
- Distance from ward: 1.8miles
- Election history: 2007 Claremont, 2008 Park by-election, 2011 Squires Gate, 2012 Bloomfield by-election
Bloomfield in recent years has been something of a stronghold for the Liberal Democrats, with Doreen Holt winning the most votes in 2007. Sadly, the popular councillor lost her battle with cancer in early 2011, and the subsequent local elections showed that people were voting for Doreen, not for the Liberal Democrats. The door swung open for Labour to take the ward at a stroll in 2011, which they did.
Sue Close is the candidate standing for the Liberal Democrats in this by-election; according to her party website she is the treasurer for the Blackpool and Fleetwood association. Even though her surname suggests that she lives in the area, Sue Close actually lives up in Claremont ward on Eaves Street and is a political nomad who has appeared as a candidate in many elections.
Most recently she replaced the popular Robert Wynne as a Liberal Democrat candidate in Squires Gate for the 2011 elections but unfortunately, perhaps due to her lack of locality, won the least number of votes and saw Conservative newcomer Christian Cox storm to an unexpected victory.
Sue also stood in the 2008 Park by-election which saw the Conservatives’ Peter Collins score a thumping victory against Labour pariah and former council leader Roy Fisher. Going back further, Sue represented the Liberal Democrats in the 2007 local election, standing in Claremont this time.
Clearly, like John Jones, Sue will stand anywhere and has no particular love or passion for any ward. I’ve searched on the local Liberal Democrat website, but no propaganda for Sue is available and the election isn’t mentioned.
Ged Walsh – Conservative
- Distance from ward: 0.3miles
- Election history: none
In a previous life, Sandgrown’un Ged got his degree and worked in IT management, but now lives on the doorstep of Bloomfield and runs a successful block of holiday flats on Coronation Street, so he is well acquainted with the area.
He is a newcomer to the political fray and has not appeared as a candidate before, however he has been active locally, in particular campaigning against issues which have damaged local holiday businesses, such as the proliferation of Houses of Multiple Occupation. Ged was the driving force in successfully closing down an illegal brothel, a campaign which saw the issue of a Community Crime Fighter award by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
On his propaganda Ged says that he, ‘is a man with a history of getting things done through challenging the council and finding answers to questions they would rather he didn’t ask!’
He goes on to say;
For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on our care and concern for each other. I feel that it is my duty and honour to serve the people of Bloomfield and help bring a better quality of life to those who live here.
Bev Keenan – Independent
- Distance from ward: lives in ward
- Election history: none
Bev lives on Ribble Road and is the only candidate who actually lives in the ward. As with Ged Walsh, Bev is a newcomer to the political scene and has not appeared as a candidate before.
As a child, Bev was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2, yet despite having undergone many painful operations to remedy the effect of this debilitating disease, Bev is still going strong and is ready to put Simon Blackburn to the sword in the council chamber. Being close to her family has helped her to deal with her condition so she can live a good quality of life.
Bev is a passionate campaigner against knife crime and the carrying of knives. Tragically, Bev’s only brother Wayne was stabbed to death in 2000 after moving from Leeds to Blackpool to start a new life with his family. The murderer, who butchered Keenan 6 times with a kitchen knife, received just 7 years in jail. Bev quite rightly asks where the justice is.
Bev is an active commenter on many Gazette articles. She represents a common sense local view which is against the stag and hen invasion and wants to see council resources spent on local people. She told the Gazette, “Does Blackpool only cater for stags and hens? I thought they were trying to clean it up!”