RESIDENTS living next to the "world famous" Blackpool Tower have blasted the council for wasting £11 million on paint instead of tackling the city's dark problems.
Millions of tourists flock to the Lancashire town every year to hit the sandy beaches, scoff fish and chips and enjoy the roller-coasters on the Pleasure Beach.
But locals living in the shadow of the famous tower say the town has been blighted by knife crime, drunken yobs, drugs and poverty for years.
The council is set to splash millions on paint and steel works on the tower with revenue from the attraction funding the repayments.
Sun Online took to the streets to quiz locals on what they really thought.
NHS post room operative Richard Simpson, 51, was born and bred in the town.
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He said: "I've worked in the town centre so I see a lot of what goes on. It's got quite a good front but behind it, it's quite a poor town really. They're making a bit of an effort in the centre.
"I was talking to someone who does the painting on the tower. He said it costs a ridiculous amount for one tin of paint as they've got to mix it with something."
But Blackpool isn't all about "Kiss me quick" hats and donkey rides on the beach.
The Lancashire town has the third highest crime rate in the UK with 161 crimes per 100,000 of the population last year, according to the Office of National Statistics.
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Gillian Raynor, 58, moved to the town in 1996. She said: "It's gone rough around here now.
"There's robbing everywhere. You can't leave anything out in your garden. I've had a jet washer stolen.
"It's gone downhill. They need to tidy it up. They should be spending money on giving the kids something to do, not wasting it on painting the tower."
Ellen Charlton, 74, has lived in Ribble Road in central Blackpool for 52 years after moving from Coatbridge in Scotland.
Speaking outside her terraced house featuring paintings of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, the eccentric former lollipop lady said: "It's been good to me and my children. But everyone is getting attacked.
"One of my neighbours wanted a taxi to Central Drive and the taxi driver said they don't go there anymore. People are getting stabbed. The young kids today are killing people.
"Blackpool has been good for me and my family but a lot has changed. Years ago, I knew everyone in the street."
Daniel McLaughlin, 19, wants to become a special constable to help tackle crime in the town.
He said: "I love the town but not when there are drunk people about. There's a lot of stag and hen parties.
"The attractions are good for the economy. I'm starting a Prince's Trust course. I'd like to be a special constable in the police. I spoke to police officers about it.
"They need to crack down on the crime and give more things for the teenagers to do. The police have been patrolling Stanley Park because of the anti-social behaviour. They need more patrols."
Peter Winter, 81, moved to Blackpool from Manchester 22 years ago. He said the sea air has helped him recover from asthma.
He said: "I came here initially for my health. The air has cleared my lungs. I came here to recover from severe asthma, I nearly died three times.
"Blackpool is a place of 50/50 – good and bad. There's lots of good in Blackpool, the water is as you find it. The houses are in two parts, there are cheap houses and if you go further up towards Bispham they increase in price.
"There's a lot of people on benefits here and we've had problems, firearms in houses.
"You can't have too many tourists, they generate income. I enjoy it here. I won't be moving anytime soon."
But other residents believed that painting the tower was money well spent.
Samantha Beaumont, 46, who runs Promenade Snow Cones, said the tower deserved to have millions spent on it.
She said: "I love the tower. Everything is great about Blackpool, the promenade, the lights, all the amusements. It's just a fantastic place to go and fun for all the family.
"Dogs on the beach are a bit of a nightmare, though. There are too many making a mess on the beach. They're not supposed to be on there between March and September but people just ignore rules. So that's a bit of a problem.
"They definitely should spend money on the tower. It's hosted Strictly Come Dancing and the Dungeon is there too. I love the tower. It's world famous.
"I started this business this season. It's had a slow start but we're having an unexpected turn with the weather now."
David Green, 60, who lives in the town, said: "There's plenty to do, it's a very pleasant place to live compared to other places. I've lived here since the early 2000s.
"I don't have anything bad to say. It's very busy and can be noisy.
"People are always criticising the council saying they spend too much money on the tower when they could be spending it on roads or pavements, but this is a tourist seaside town so it's good for the economy.
"I'm on the fence about the council. There are some places you can't walk on the pavement as it's so uneven."
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A council report said the works were "essential" in order to "significantly extend the useful economic life of the asset, preserve and maintain the structural integrity of the Tower and safeguard the ability to continue to operate the Tower as a world-class family focused visitor destination and one of Blackpool's flagship visitor attractions".
Blackpool Council have been contacted for comment.
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