Events may have to be scaled back

The World Firework Championships on Blackpool Promenade.

The World Firework Championships on Blackpool Promenade.

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BLACKPOOL’S tourism events programme may become the latest victim of spending cuts.

Councillors have been warned the popular World Fireworks Championships, Ride the Lights and Veterans celebrations will still happen in 2011, but their scale very much depends on funding.

The Government has told Blackpool Council it must make across-the-board savings of £27m over the next year.

Around 1,000 town hall jobs will be axed and key services including tourism are now under the microscope.

The news that events could be scaled back came as it was revealed the new Promenade headlands will probably not be ready to move this year’s Illuminations Switch On event from its current home.

The current events programme is in the region of £650,000.

Head of VisitBlackpool Natalie Wyatt said if there was less cash for 2011/12, events would still go ahead, but tourism chiefs would have to review the scale.

She told a meeting of the tourism and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee: “Should budgets not be approved, the contingency would be to have a scaled down programme and we would also look at getting the private sector to programme events.

“For example, the fireworks might have to be held over three weekends instead of five, or Showzam! might have to be shorter. Nothing has been decided yet, we will have to wait and see how much money is available.”

Blackpool received £3.5m from the Northwest Development Agency (NWDA) for a three-year events programme which the council took over the funding of last year.

Coun Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration, agreed some events may be reduced in size this year.

She said: “We had funding from the NWDA for three years and last year we were on our own so we didn’t have the volleyball and the kite festival wasn’t as big.

“Certainly as an administration we want to keep all the events going as much as possible. It’s the economy of the town and it’s people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“We are going ahead with Showzam! in February and are doing promotion in the Trafford Centre.”

FOR MORE ON THIS STORY SEE MONDAY’S GAZETTE.