Illuminations competition fears

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Fears have been raised over “promoting” Blackpool’s famous Illuminations in other towns and cities.

Blackpool Council’s Illuminations department has won a contract to provide the full design and equipment for an Illuminations show in Sunderland.

It will see the whole of the city’s promenade lit up with new and traditional designs.

And the scheme, along with selling off older Illuminations for other towns to use in Christmas lights displays, means the department can create its own income to fund new lights.

But the move has led to major concerns among some councillors that Blackpool is effectively “selling its unique selling point.”

And questions have been asked as to whether income from the Sunderland project is worth it.

Coun Peter Callow, a Conservative member, said: “Is it wise to promote a rival to such an extent? Is that sensible?”

And Coun Maxine Callow, also a Conservative, added: “It concerns me we’re selling something that’s unique to Blackpool.

“I’m a great believer in competition but it’s no use handing it out to other areas.

“I appreciate we’ve sold features we no longer need. How much did we get for this tender?”

But the resort’s tourism and leisure chief, Coun Graham Cain, defended the move.

He said: “No, we are not promoting a rival. We are promoting our world famous Illuminations.

“We supply many other councils [with lights]. At the end of the day we want to encourage working in partnership and to reinvest in our Illuminations.

“Yes we do sell things off but we manufacture products.

“It’s using common sense and putting money back into our Illuminations.”

The same matter, detailed in a report which was discussed at the authority’s full council meeting on Wednesday, highlighted how the attraction’s business collection was already 10 per cent higher than last year’s total before the Lights were even switched on.