No more dirty jokes on £4m attraction

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TOWN hall bosses have set aside thousands of pounds to clean Blackpool’s top attractions - amid accusations their upkeep has been ignored.

Up to £130,000 has been put in a contingency budget to pay for the maintenance of the Comedy Carpet and Tower Festival Headlands.

Today it was revealed £20,000 of that will be spent on the upkeep of the £4m Comedy Carpet, which will see the cleaning schedule upped from 10 to 40 times a year.

A specialist ‘ride on scrubber’ has been bought as part of the cash to clean the attraction, which has been bombarded with major events since it opened almost a year ago.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said too little thought had gone into considering the costs of preserving new attractions in the past and was determined not to make the same gaffe.

He said: “When you build something shiny and new you have to be confident you have enough money in the budget to maintain them, that’s the lessons councils have not learnt.

“I’m keen my administration do not build things shiny and new that end up costing more in the long term.

“If you look at the Comedy Carpet we are spending a big sum every year trying to keep it in decent condition.

“We have had £350m of improvements and they are great, I am not decrying that that money has been spent, what bothers me is that every year I have to find the money now to keep them looking decent.

“Whenever an exciting project comes along, everyone wants it because it will be great and look nice and we get ‘optimism bias’. You see all the good points but put to the back of the mind all the expensive elements.

“Like buying a car for instance - you want the shiny new car and don’t think about the petrol, servicing costs that come on top of it because you want the car so much.

“As the years roll by and budgets get more and more restricted it becomes more of a challenge. I want the Comedy Carpet to be there in 100 years but we have to acknowledge it will cost more money.”

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It comes as a report released by the council showed the Comedy Carpet, Festival Headland and 81 Central were causing pressure on budgets.

Forecasts predicted the three could cost an additional £130,000 to the taxpayer at the end of the financial year, due to rising electricity and water costs.

Plans are now in place for maintenance and cleaning of the resort’s new Central Business District to be factored into future budgets.

The cost of the new cleaning machine for the Comedy Carpet - which council leaders say will do a more “effective” job of cleaning the attraction - will be absorbed in the £20,500 forecasted cleaning bill.

Coun Tony Williams, opposition leader, said: “It was the previous Conservative administration that delivered the Comedy Carpet and had we stayed in power there would have been provision made to ensure that this work of art and all other works of art in Blackpool were adequately maintained and protected as most had been neglected for some time. I am delighted Coun Blackburn has now decided that this unique piece of work is worth preserving, and not desecrating, after all.”

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