Blackpool is set to miss out on a £1.2m tourism injection after a business group decided to hold its 40th anniversary conference in Manchester.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which supports small and medium sized enterprises, has its roots in the Fylde coast, but the group is to snub the resort in favour of the Manchester Central complex.
The group claims their national conference will generate a massive £1.2m for the Manchester economy during the three day conference at the end of the month.
The decision to take the conference elsewhere - when the group has its head offices in South Shore - has sparked anger from business leaders in the town.
Steve Pye (pictured), a former chairman of the Fylde coast’s FSB branch, said: “The FSB can treat their members as they wish and kick Blackpool in the teeth by sucking up to the corporates of Manchester. They are happy to forget about their keep trade local campaign, because Manchester has all the corporate hotel and restaurant chains that will be overcharging the visitor.
“Blackpool has missed out on £1.2m to the local economy, and they (the FSB) rub salt in the wound by claiming they support struggling small businesses.”
John Rudkin, managing director of the E3 community interest company, in Blackpool, echoed Mr Pye’s fears.
He added: “It could have been a very important event from the FSB.
“When I joined, the branch was expecting the 40th Anniversary to be in the town.”
The conference has not been held in Blackpool since 2004 and was held in Leicester last year. Although it was never officially mooted the 40th anniversary conference was to be held in Blackpool, many Fylde members hoped it would mark the milestone on home turf.
Coun Maxine Callow, Blackpool Council ward councillor for Norbreck, said: “To not get this is devastating.
“It’s a bitter blow because nobody wants to lose any conferences. I’ve wanted to get the big political conferences back because they are people with deep pockets and so are people in business.”
A spokesman for VisitBlackpool said: “We had lengthy discussions with the FSB for three years about the hosting of this event in Blackpool.
“The FSB has a long history with Blackpool and it is disappointing their conference is not here but the Federation felt they would be better suited in a national conference venue.”
Dave Stallon, FSB Honorary National Secretary, said: “Each year senior members of the FSB elect an appropriate location for the National Conference.
“And this year, being the FSB’s 40th anniversary we wanted to showcase our growth and progression.
“There’s no doubt the North West is a strong heartland for our members but members felt Manchester would be an appropriate choice for our 2014 event.”