Tories attack tourism move

Crowds at this year's Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On.
Crowds at this year's Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On.
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Town hall bosses were today accused of making a scapegoat of the company tasked with promoting the resort in order to hide their own failings.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams today claimed the council’s ruling Labour administration, led by Coun Simon Blackburn, was trying to shift the blame for this year’s Illuminations switch-on, which suffered losses of £372,109.

It was announced on Saturday the council is proposing to scrap Marketing Blackpool which was set up two years ago to spearhead the council’s tourism strategy.

The work is instead set to be brought back in-house.

The council believes it would be cheaper to run the tourism service itself, although the move would mean the council taking over Marketing Blackpool’s £288,000 debt.

Coun Williams said: “Clearly Coun Blackburn is attempting to distance himself from the Lights disaster by sacking Marketing Blackpool.

“However the truth is that as well as being the leader and effectively in charge of all council businesses, he is also chair of the shareholders panel that oversees all of our arms length companies, including Marketing Blackpool, and the buck stops with him.

“It’s laughable and also cowardly that this administration are trying to blame someone else for their failings.”

Coun Peter Callow, chairman of the finance and audit committee, added: “Coun Blackburn is trying to shift the blame for the Switch-On fiasco onto Marketing Blackpool.

“They thought they were going to make a killing, but the figures didn’t add up.”

Coun Blackburn refused to comment on the claims, but he is due to attend Thursday’s finance and audit committee at 6pm at the town hall to answer councillors’ questions.

Executive told losses will be met

The proposal will go before the executive on Monday, November 11.

Council chiefs believes it would be more cost effective to bring the council’s tourism operations back in house.

A report to councillors says: “Initially the company will have to transfer all of its assets, business, company functions and liabilities to the council.

“The staff are currently seconded so there is no transfer of employees that needs to take place; only a reversal of the secondment.

“Once the council has accepted this transfer the company will cease to operate and subject to certain formalities, the company will be wound up.”

The transfer will see the council take over liabilities of £288,000 but this will be met by the efficiency savings.

Lib Dem councillor Douglas Green said: “I think Marketing Blackpool would have done better had it been a truly independent commercial operation.”

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