Fun park bids for cash boost

Hollywood star David Hasselhoff at the 'opening of Nickelodeon Land at the Pleasure Beach in 2011. Below: Coun Simon Blackburn has backed new investment in the fun park.
Hollywood star David Hasselhoff at the 'opening of Nickelodeon Land at the Pleasure Beach in 2011. Below: Coun Simon Blackburn has backed new investment in the fun park.
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BLACKPOOL Pleasure Beach is seeking to borrow cash for a new investment in the attraction.

The company has applied to the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for a loan through the Growing Places Fund.

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn

It is not yet known how much money the park is seeking, or what it will be used for, but a report to Blackpool Council describes the application as having been made “in order to facilitate new investment at the park”.

It adds: “The application seeks to utilise the Growing Places Fund, which has been established to develop infrastructure projects where funding is not readily available through other channels.”

None of the loan will come from the council, which lent the Pleasure Beach £5m in 2010 towards the building of Nickelodeon Land, but town hall chiefs have given their support to the bid.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, who is an LEP board member, was accused of making a u-turn by backing the application after he opposed the then Tory-controlled council’s decision to approve the £5m loan two years ago.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams told last night’s meeting of the council: “When we lent the Pleasure Beach money, very prominently and very successfully, Coun Blackburn was critical of that.

“Yet the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership tell me Blackpool has been very supportive of the Pleasure Beach borrowing this money from them.

“We lent them money when we were in administration and they are very up to date with paying it back. The loan has made the council money and brought people to the town.

“I am glad Coun Blackburn has made a small u-turn and is encouraging investment into the town.”

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Coun Blackburn had criticised the £5m loan in 2010, saying the money would be better used trying to protect under threat town hall jobs.

But he told the Tories last night: “I have been very supportive of the Pleasure Beach since taking office.

“What I was doubting was your ability to put together a decent deal rather than their ability to repay it.

“What is important is not just to encourage new businesses to move to the town, but existing businesses to grow. I am happy we have a strong relationship both with the Pleasure Beach and with Merlin.”

The LEP has initially received £13m from the Government’s Growing Places Fund, and has already approved £7m for the first three priority schemes.

The Pleasure Beach application has not yet been finalised. All applications to the scheme must prove they will lead to jobs being created and help stimulate the local economy.

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