The Sun has published a damning report on Blackpool focusing on drug abuse, life expectancy, well-being and personal finances. The daily national paper states in a report, dated 11th August 2021, that, ‘Just yards from the family holidays and busy sounds of the slot machines and bingo callers of Blackpool’s Golden Mile, wraps of heroin are being traded for just £10.’ The report and video says that Blackpool has the highest drug related death rate in England and Wales, with 42 people in the resort dying from drug poisoning.
The report states that nationally Blackpool also has the lowest life expectancy for both men and women, saying that ‘On average men only make it to 74-and-a-half years of age, while women reach 79-and-a-half. Together, Blackpool residents’ life expectancy is around five-and-a-half years lower than the national average. Over a third of the town’s residents die before they reach 75.’ The Sun gave this stark explanation, ‘High rates of illnesses like cancer and heart disease along with youth deaths from suicide, drugs and booze are all thought to explain why there’s such a huge gap between the resort and the rest of the country.’
The Sun reporter interviewed local residents to find their views. On the beach, donkey owner Oliver Clews said, ‘When the sun is shining and the beach is packed it is beautiful here. You could be abroad. There is a good, the bad and ugly side to Blackpool. You don’t see any drugs or anything on the beach but a few streets from the shore, you see people dealing or taking drugs.”
Another local resident told The Sun, ‘I live in one of the streets of houses which is drug city. The dealers have been seen travelling on the scooters in the streets around the North Pier. You see them arriving on scooters that don’t make any noise. No-one messes with them.’
Ryan Busby, 26, who regularly walks his brother and sister, aged ten and 14, to school, also gave the Sun a shocking insight into the drugs trade saying, ‘You see them lighting a spoon to burn heroin at 8am in front of the kids going to school. It’s shocking as the kids can see them burning up or sniffing cocaine. I’ve seen bikes being robbed. I was literally walking up town and I watched somebody rob a BMX as they rode off with it. I’ve heard stories about my mates being jumped, being robbed, being mugged. You get followed a lot, especially certain girls’ mates.’
The Sun’s research also showed that Blackpool is the most deprived local authority in England where 13 per cent of the population claim benefits and has eight of the ten poorest neighbourhoods in England.
Blackpool has the highest number of alcohol related hospital admissions, with its 67.3 per 100,000 people rate twice the national norm.
The resort also has shocking rates of severe mental health issues with over 500 hospital admissions for intentional self-harm in 2018/19.
Many people with substance misuse issues have mental health problems at the same time.
The Sun asked Mick Channon, 52, about the problems. He said: ‘Drugs are all the place here. There’s a lot of spice and heroin.’
For those who do find work, wages are lower than in other areas of the country. The national average of gross weekly pay last year was around £580 – in Blackpool, it was £445, or £135 less. That equates to over £7,000 less per year.
In conclusion James Dewhurst, 61, told The Sun: ‘People come here as they think the streets are paved with gold, but they’re not and they end up on drugs. It’s sad and the place has become more rundown. When people think, ‘Oh Blackpool, it’s bubbling, it’s busy,’ it’s not. I’ve lived here all my life. Things in this town have got bad.’
You can access the full report with an exclusive four minute video and photographs showing the deprivation here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/15821266/dark-side-blackpool-drugs/