‘No room for unambitious’

The proposed site in East Topping Street of a new four star hotel in Blackpool

The proposed site in East Topping Street of a new four star hotel in Blackpool

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Blackpool Council leader 
Simon Blackburn today 
accused opponents of a four star hotel scheme of “lack 
of ambition”,

Speaking following the failure of a bid by Tory group leader Coun Tony Williams to over-turn the decision to plough £14m of council money into the development, Coun Blackburn said the investment would bring hundreds of new jobs to the town.

He said: “The council is in the uniquely privileged position of being able to borrow money at a very cheap rate, which it is able to use to kick start developments that would otherwise take many years to happen, or would not happen at all.

“This development will create a new quality hotel. This will create, directly and indirectly, hundreds of jobs.

“The hotel will attract new visitors to Blackpool, in addition to supplementing our currently very limited supply of four star hotels.

“The council’s financial investment has been the subject to rigorous risk assessment and due diligence, work which will continue as we negotiate with the three possible operators.

“This investment will make money for the council tax payer, not lose money, and enable a major development to take place sooner rather than later.

“The lack of ambition and financial acumen being displayed by those who oppose this scheme is staggering.”

The council will borrow around £11.3m, with the other £2.7m coming out of the existing development pot for the Talbot Gateway Central Business District, to build the 130 bedroom hotel in East Topping Street.

Holiday Inn has already been identified as the likely operator.

But Coun Williams says the scheme represents too much of a risk and claims it could end up costing the council substantially more.

He said: “The brand hotel name is at no risk, the builder is at no risk and the hotel operator is at no risk, however the council is totally exposed and liable to all risks.

“While I support any new hotel development in Blackpool of a four or five star rating, I don’t think that this site is attractive enough to bring in new visitors or repeat business.”

The call in sub-committee – made up of six Labour and three Conservative members – voted in 6-3 in favour of supporting the scheme.