The Lancashire Festival of Hope Leadership Team, which consists of church leaders from a variety of denominations across Lancashire, was astonished to learn of Blackpool Transport’s recent decision to remove Festival advertising from its bus fleet. This decision was made by Blackpool Transport without consultation with us, and we were not informed directly by them, or given a right of reply. We learned about it when it was posted on the Transport’s Press Summary.
The purpose of the Festival of Hope is to share with as many people as possible, the simple gospel message summarised in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Nearly 200 Lancashire churches have engaged so far in the Festival process. In the recent Christian Life & Witness training course, over 1300 church members participated in the preparation stage. The Festival will be a positive event, and the largest ecumenical Christian event in Lancashire for a generation. There is a great deal of excitement amongst large parts of Lancashire’s Christian community as we prepare to share the hope of Jesus Christ.
In light of this, it seems a travesty that a company we had formally contracted to provide an advertising service should withdraw this inoffensive Festival invitation, in response to small minority of people who objected via social media.
The managing director of Blackpool Transport is quoted in the media as saying, “The removal of these adverts is a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback which we aim to do at all times.” Because the Christian community is also a customer, we hope Blackpool Transport will listen to our public feedback as well, and not show what appears to be a potential bias toward Christians. We have contacted Blackpool Transport and asked to meet with the Directors as a matter of urgency, to clarify their thinking in this matter.
While we pursue a fair and open dialogue with Blackpool Transport, we urge all supporters of the Festival to refrain from contacting Blackpool Transport directly, or engaging in comment via social media, about this matter.
As supporters of The Festival of Hope, we know this will be a positive event that can have a lasting impact on our community. So we are asking other supporters to continue the positive nature of this effort and commit your energies to prayer, and encourage everyone your know to join us September 21, 22 and 23 at the Winter Gardens.