Cleveleys residents hoping 2012 will be their best year ever

PUBLISHED: 10:02 10 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:02 20 February 2013

North Promenade

North Promenade

It's been tough going for this coastal resort but people in the town are hoping 2012 will be their best year ever. Amanda Griffiths reports Photography by John Cocks

There have been a lot of changes in Cleveleys during the last five years. A 15 million new sea wall not only protects the town but also provides an attractive promenade for visitors.

True, road works from the upgrade to the tram line have caused confusion for residents and visitors alike, but with the unheavel set to end in April traders and residents are hopeful that this year will be the best yet for the coastal resort nestling between Blackpool and Fleetwood.

Andrea Kay, who represents Cleveleys at both borough and county council level is full of optimism. We have come through all the changes, we have our new sea front and the trams will be back, she says.

She describes the town as a fantastic community. Its got so much going for it. How many other places have such diversity of shops within walking distance? Some towns dont have one supermarket but we have almost all of them.

Of course the disruption with the tram works has been hard for people, but the line is due to open again in April and theres a Tram Heritage Centre planned at Dorset Avenue at the top of Cumberland Road which is going to be another pull for visitors.

Martin Hunns agrees. The chairman of the chamber of trade and owner of the Carousel Diner adds: Our prom is one of the loveliest and has won awards, we have a lovely new sea front that people want to come
and have a look at and more development going on in the town centre that will hopefully bring people back.

The M&Co clothing company is redeveloping its town centre store and there are plans to build a new bus station. The small details arent being neglected, either.

The chamber is hoping to put more planters and furniture on the high street to make it a more attractive, relaxing place, he says.

I moved to Cleveleys 15 years ago, and weve had some good times but business has dwindled in the last couple of years and people certainly havent been coming in the same numbers, especially the visitors by coach.

But, as Martin points out, its the same story all over the country. What they need to do now is look at ways of putting Cleveleys back on the map.

Four years ago the River Dance, a small boat ran aground here. It took about 12 months for her to be cleared away and I think everybody in Cleveleys would say that was their best year ever, he says. People came from all over to see her.

No one wants another shipping accident but everyone is looking at ways of bringing in the visitors.

One of Cleveleys newest businesses is doing that. SubZero Ice Rink on the new front has been open for business just under a year but is going from strength to strength, according to co-owner Greig Appleby.

It was originally designed to be a facility for local people as the Blackpool area lacked an ice rink where you could just turn up and skate, he says. Were a leisure rink where people can just come along to skate, but were also teaching figure skating and developing an ice hockey team.

Our team, the Fylde Flyers are currently in division two. We had our first home game before Christmas and have been hosting games about once a week ever since.

The rink complex also features a shop selling equipment, function rooms and a caf. It has seen a good mix of local people and tourists but customers come from further afield.

Feedback has been good, says Greig. The traders in the area seem pleased theres something new to bring people into the town. I think its definitely raised the profile of Cleveleys. Its unusual to see an ice rink built in a small town rather than a city.

Andrea has even more plans of how to bring more people into town.
I think Cleveleys already has everything people need but if theres something we havent got well go all out to get it, she says.

In the future I would love to see the stretch of the high street from M&S pedestrianised, then we could have Continental and Christmas markets which would help bring people into the town.

We already have a successful Christmas parade this year was the best ever with 450 people, and Id like to see something similar in the summer.

Cleveleys isnt, of course, just about tourists and both Martin and Andrea say theres a strong community spirit there. Businesses work together with a special radio scheme that allows each store to keep in touch, something that undoubtedly has helped reduce crime. Andrea describes herself as liking to get her hands dirty and has immersed herself in the community since she came to Cleveleys seven years ago.

Since then she says shes been responsible for bringing the dance class trend of Zumba to the town as well as organising schemes to give young people things to do and get them off the street.

Shes also just helped organise a highly successful four course Christmas dinner in conjunction with the Methodist church for elderly people on their own which she says is a true example of community spirit.

I approached all the supermarkets and they all made a donation so the meal didnt cost a penny. I had ten volunteers helping out on the day and a chef from Brockholes in Preston gave up his time to do the cooking.
People gave what they could, even people like my dad gave up time to help drive people around on the day, she says.

Its the same with the fundraising weve been doing for local children. We have two terminally ill children and two with cerebral palsy and have been fundraising to help convert one of their houses to make life easier and also special bikes for them which we gave them at Christmas.

And we made sure we gave their siblings presents too as they often get left out. Its brilliant - everybody will give what they can.

The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Lancashire Life

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