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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Good Riddance to 2022

John Woodman

The great British public must be heaving a sigh of relief that an end to this blighted year 2022 is finally at hand. The loss of a remarkable long lived head of state in the form of Queen Elizabeth !! was perhaps the salient marker for which the year will be remembered. Far behind are the unremarkable trail of Downing Street incumbents who have managed almost effortlessly to drag down the country's reputation for wise and responsible government. The most recent runners in the Tory Party Stakes being Johnson, Truss and Sunak, with May bringing up the rear. Just how long the voting public will affirm continuance of what seemingly is 'one Party Rule' will be tested within two years.

Below : A brave effort with Balloon car 710 primed to head north to Fleetwood and Wyre Dock - alas to no avail so the tram will finally return to 'Tram Town' where it rightfully belongs.

As we endure this winter of union discontent abetted by untrammelled rises in the cost of just about every commodity - questions have to be asked as to the level of governing competence and justification for the social disconnect even more glaringly apparent in today's Britain. Quite rightly the Labour Party, itching at the reins for the slightest chance to throw out this self congratulatory governing cabal have decided to replace the House of Cronys and Lickspittles with an elected upper Chamber at Westminster. Whilst at the same time recognising the gross imbalance of economic fortunes which for far too long has favoured the capital and its hinterland - the so called 'Home Counties' - over England's toiling masses yearning to be free in the Midlands and the North.

Adding to the fire of rising discontent is the open sore pervasive within the Royal Family, with grave consequences for the future of this monarchy - if it actually has one. As the great mass of citizens juggle with paying for food, transport and home heating, we are treated daily to risible bleatings from the west coast of America on the difficulties of managing multi million pound estates. The Sussexes having opted to vacate their UK -domain for multi media financed streams of income elsewhere. At least the Duke of Windsor with his American born wife showed lifelong discretion living apart from this country, until death overtook them. Whether the monarchy survives the malign influences of Harry, Meghan and Andrew against a backdrop of national discontent and economic woes is an open question.

Closer to home Blackpool is showing signs of physical recovery but still clutching on to worn and threadbare totems from an interwar spurt of investment and infusion of style. Some throwaway crumbs from the government's grabbag of political ploys are dwarfed by commitments by private sector interests. The Town Hall Executives are seemingly deft at plotting paths to multiple new funding programmes. Signing off on the sizeable loans (or is it grants?) to the publicly owned transport company to underpin conversion of a sizeable bus fleet to all electric vehicles being but one relevant example. Relocating varied government department offices into a monumental new structure certain to dominate the town centre for much of this century, combined with a makeover of the old North Station property, and the even more consequential mixed leisure economy scheme next to Hounds Hill are harbingers of changing townscape.

Less promising tasks remain however: removing the trading dross which has overtaken once prime retail space on Talbot Road, Abingdon and Clifton Streets and adjoining town centre commercial zones. Throwing out the low end landlords, usually out of town operators, making money on multi flat and single occupancy residential properties to non wage earning tenants drawn to the seaside from conurbations elsewhere in the northwest. Removing building and operating licenses from the bottom of the market hospitality operator blighting the town's reputation through its ownership of and parlous management of some of (thankfully not all) the largest hotels on the seafront. Shutting down noiseome drinking dens seemingly immune to Council oversight being an easy enough task for heavy duty staff.

And as for this website - given the closing down of the decade long effort to establish a quality,year round transport visitor attraction at Fleetwood's dockside, it is no longer worthwhile giving airtime to what might have been an added asset at the northern end of the Fylde coast. Lacking evidence of any worthwhile support or endorsement from the movers and shakers of the Local Authority (Wyre) the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust has called time and disposing of its small collection of trams and related assets. The website will continue as a platform for personal observations on tram and related transport themes, albeit with a Fylde coast bias. Changes to the format are planned for 2023 which include a wider offer of transport books and items to be disposed of from the writer's collection - and by extension third party material, Goodbye to 2022 - may the New Year prove more agreeable for all of us.


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