Blackpool return for political conferences?

Visit to Blackpool Tower by Conservative Party chairman Sayeeda Warsi. Pictured with MP Paul Maynard and Peter Callow
Visit to Blackpool Tower by Conservative Party chairman Sayeeda Warsi. Pictured with MP Paul Maynard and Peter Callow
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BLACKPOOL’S hopes of hosting major party conferences have received a boost after Conservative Party chairman Sayeeda Warsi said the resort would be “seriously considered” for future Tory gatherings.

Baroness Warsi, who was in the resort to see regeneration work carried out at Blackpool Tower, said she would support a bid for the conference to return.

She said: “We would love to come back to Blackpool.

“Some of my earliest conferences were in Blackpool and I know the Prime Minister also has fond memories of Blackpool. He made his bid for leadership here and I had the privilege of introducing him.

“Both myself and the Prime Minister would be delighted to consider Blackpool and all the improvements the council is doing to Blackpool strengthens the town having the conference again.

“When our current contracts with Birmingham and Manchester come up for reconsideration, then Blackpool will be one of the places we will seriously be considering, and as a northern girl I will certainly be supporting that.”

The Tories, who last held their annual conference in Blackpool in 2007, are due to meet in Manchester this year and Birmingham in 2012.

The £1.25m first phase of restoration of the Winter Gardens, which is now owned by the council, was completed earlier this year.

But Labour’s Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said the Government needed to put its money where its mouth was.

He said: “So far this year the Government has failed to give Blackpool a local enterprise partnership, failed to give it an enterprise zone and hasn’t given it any money from the regional growth fund.

“That’s not a very good basis on which to make promises about coming back with their conference. Actions speak louder than words.”

Baroness Warsi also visited Ashton Gardens in St Annes during her whistle-stop visit to the Fylde.

She said: “Local elections are here and it’s always great to see what councils are doing.

“Even in these difficult times they are finding money to prioritise those things that are important.

“Here in Blackpool we have a council which knows and understands the town and knows the only way the town will improve is if businesses grow, and they are working with businesses to allow the town to focus on its unique selling point which is to make sure that when people visit here they will have a great time.”