A major scenario involving emergency services from across Lancashire together with over 300 volunteers will play out on the Promenade in Blackpool tonight (Tuesday 8th November) as plans and procedures for dealing with and responding to a real-life major incident are enacted. This means that road closures will be in place between 6 p.m. and midnight. There will be no vehicle access to the Promenade between Central Pier and North Pier and diversions will be in place. The Illuminations display will remain lit, but the projection shows on the front of the Blackpool Tower building will be suspended for tonight only.
Police officers and exercise staff will be in the area to keep people informed about what is happening. Following the major exercise, this section of the Promenade will reopen tomorrow, Wednesday 9 November.
The exercise was originally planned for 2019 but was put on hold when other national issues took precedence and required a coordinated response from the Local Resilience Forum.
Chief Superintendent Wendy Bower, who leads the General Purposes group for the Local Resilience Forum, said: “We have been planning this exercise for three years now. It was originally going to happen in 2019 but due to planning for Brexit and then responding to the Covid pandemic, our capacity to plan and deliver the exercise was limited.
“We regularly test our plans for responding to a major incident or large-scale emergency and this allows us to ensure we are as prepared as possible should such an incident occur. It is important to stress that is not in response to any specific threat and the UK terrorism threat level remains at substantial which means an attack is likely.
“We take these exercises very seriously as this is as close as we can get to real life experience. They take months of planning and the support of more than 300 volunteers on this occasion, along with those working within the emergency services.
“The element of surprise for those involved is essential as it helps test their knowledge, training and experience so we can work out areas which we might need to improve. We are also testing our response to supporting victims of a major incident as we know this is critical to our plans and want to ensure every agency can test their own arrangements and learn from the experience.
“This area of Blackpool is extremely busy, and the town is bustling now with the Illuminations attracting thousands of people each night. We don’t want to cause disruption to those enjoying their evening, so we have been working very closely with Blackpool Council and businesses in the area to make sure we minimise any impact.
“I know those in the area may be concerned about some of the noises they hear or the increased presence of emergency services so I’m keen to reassure everyone that this is a pre-planned exercise.
“Exercises of this kind are critical, it will allow us to disseminate the learning from the Manchester Arena attack which, were published on 3 November, to all those are involved in the event. It will also allow us to make sure that any learning which comes from next week is shared across emergency services and all our partner agencies with a view to continuous improvement of our approach.”