Banks hit back today at claims they were choking off cash vital to Blackpool’s hotels sector.
Some finance chiefs even claimed the resort was as important to the banks as the banks were to the resort.
It comes after The Gazette revealed more than 165 hotels in the centre of town were up for sale – but that new owners, keen to move into the resort, were being stymied by the banks’ refusal to loan money.
But Peter Sleigh, regional director at NatWest – part of the RBS-NatWest group which received a £45bn tax-payer bail-out in 2008 – refuted the claims.
He said: “While we have definitely seen a reduction in demand across the region of about 19 per cent we can say that nine out of 10 requests from customers are being sanctioned.
“It is about having the right people, doing the right things and we definitely see that in Blackpool.
“Blackpool is hugely important to Nat West and we need to be part of the solution in the town.”
Barclays reported a similar picture. A spokesman said four out of five business lending applications up to a £25m ceiling were being accepted.
He added: “We want to lend, lending is what we do but it is our obligation to lend responsibly to businesses and help them grow.”
But Paul Crossley, managing director at Kenricks Commercial estate agents in Church Street remained unconvinced.
He said: “In the past the banks would wine and dine you every night to get your business but now you simply never hear from them.
“Now I have customers with 40 per cent deposits and they just can’t get the rest of the money from the banks.”
‘Investing hotels are reaping the rewards’
by Alex Ross
Splashing the cash to improve the appeal of the resort’s hotels should be done annually by hoteliers, according to the council’s tourism portfolio holder.
In the same week as the Pleasure Beach’s new Wallace and Gromit ride – the Thrill-O-Matic – was opened, Coun Graham Cain called on hoteliers to improve the quality of their hotels to get more holidaymakers to stay longer.
He said: “Hotels that are investing are getting results and those who put in investment are getting returns.
“Making attractive improvements will get people back.
“Times are difficult but we are doing everything we can to invest.”
However, Claire Smith, president of the hotelier’s association Stay Blackpool, says hotels are improving.
She added: “It’s a slow process but compared to seven years ago it’s vastly improved.
“A one star hotel is as vitally important to this town as a five star hotel because they are still getting a warm welcome and a clean environment.”
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