Decision due on key conference funding

Coun. Simon Blackburn
Coun. Simon Blackburn
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Town hall chiefs hope to hear next week whether a bid for funding for a new conference centre for Blackpool has been successful.

And they say they remain optimistic the money will be forthcoming.

An artists impression of the proposed new conference centre for Blackpool

An artists impression of the proposed new conference centre for Blackpool

The scheme is one of two major proposals – the other one being a museum – currently in the pipeline for the Grade II listed building.

Blackpool Council is hoping to secure £18m from the Government’s Growth Deal fund and the Coastal Communities Fund towards a new conference centre as part of the complex.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn told a meeting of the council the Government had announced the regional allocation of cash.

He said: “We will get details of that by county in the next week.

“However I remain confident that we will be successful in our funding bid.”

The bid has been made through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership which has made the conference centre one of its key priorities.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on the council, questioned whether the conference scheme would mean proposals for a museum in the Winter Gardens would be put on hold.

He said: “We seem to be working very slowly on the museum project.

“We have spent a considerable amount of money on consultation so far.

“But with the new conference centre, are we going to be worrying about the space the museum will take up? Will there be room for both?”

Coun Blackburn responded: “We are proceeding with the museum proposals at an appropriate pace.

“If it is the right thing to do and it is affordable, and if it will break even in revenue terms, we will do it.”

The museum is proposed for the Pavilion Theatre inside the Winter Gardens, while the conference centre would be built on Leopold Grove.

The latter would boast a double height entrance foyer, with exhibition space on the first floor. Above this on the second floor would be a large uninterrupted space capable of hosting major conferences of up to 2,000 people.