Council to buy Tower and Winter Gardens

BLACKPOOL Council has launched a sensational bid to buy The Tower and Winter Gardens.

And The Gazette can today reveal town hall chiefs have had a multi-million pound offer for the world famous attractions – believed to be in excess of 40m – accepted by owner Trevor Hemmings.

The authority will use a combination of government regeneration cash, European funding and a loan to place The Tower and Winter Gardens in public ownership for the first time in their history. And, if the deal goes through, millions will be spent revamping the Victorian attractions.

Council leader Peter Callow said: "If we can pull this off it will be a real coup and one which protects the future of these famous buildings and attractions for future generations."

The Sea Life Centre, Louis Tussauds waxworks, Indoor Golf Centre, Bonny Street Market and Mr T's amusement arcade – also part of Hemmings' Leisure Parcs' empire – are included in the deal.

Leisure Parcs would continue to run the facilities until a new management structure can be put in place.

Mr Hemmings bought First Leisure's Resorts Division for an estimated 74m in 1998, which included The Tower, Winter Gardens and resort's three piers. He will retain ownership of the piers under his company Cuerden Leisure.

Talks have been ongoing between the council's regeneration company ReBlackpool and Leisure Parcs since early summer about the purchase of The Tower and Winter Gardens complex.

Doug Garrett, chief executive of ReBlackpool, confirmed: "There is an agreement in principle with Leisure Parcs, but there is a lot work needed, more tweaking to be done, to make this happen. We are at a very early stage.

"We are talking about a substantial amount of money, but these are iconic buildings that have great potential."

The Gazette understands the 40m-plus figure not only covers the acquisition of the Leisure Parcs sites, but also the initial investment needed to begin refurbishment of the Winter Gardens.

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