Government's Blackpool plan unveiled

THE Government today gave its response to Blackpool's plea for action after losing out on the supercasino.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears announced 300m of spending for the resort - but many of the headline schemes, including an 85m revamp to the tram network - have previously been announced.

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The new report came as the Government was expected to finally confirm its ill-fated supercasino idea was dead.

Blackpool lost out to Manchester last year in being selected for the UK's first Las Vegas-style gaming licence.

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However, a revolt in the House of Lords - stoked by a Gazette campaign which called for it to be reviewed - saw the supercasino shelved indefinitely.

* Full report and reaction in Wednesday's Gazette

From there Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered Task Forces to be set up to see how Blackpool and east Manchester could be regenerated.

The Government yesterday gave its response to the Task Force recommendations which put a new conference centre and new sustainable tourist projects at the top of a shopping list.

The projects flagged up include:

* More than 100m for new schools, a new further education college campus in the town centre and a higher education facility.

* A 100m transport package, including the recently announced funding to modernise the Blackpool and Fleetwood tram system, and investment in Blackpool Airport.

* 82m to improve sea defences and invest in local events.

All had previously been announced by the government.

On the conference front, Ms Blears said public money could be put forward "subject to appraisal of costed bids" and private sector investment.

The North West Development Agency has also pledged support for the regeneration of Blackpool town centre, while English Partnerships will allocate up to 35m towards housing in the North and South Beach areas.

Ms Blears said: "This funding will provide a real boost for Blackpool.

Our response to the Blackpool Task Force report builds on the 85m already confirmed for the tram, and will continue to drive forward the transformation of Blackpool's future.''

Blackpool Council is now considering its response to the announcement.