Blackpool’s tramway could have been extended to link with St John’s Square instead of North Station, it has emerged.
The town’s Conservatives have revealed that was one of the options on the table when they were in power prior to 2011 and oversaw the upgrade of the tracks.
The Tories have been accused by Labour of making a u-turn by not backing current plans for a new stretch of track up Talbot Road.
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said during a heated council debate that it was the Conservatives who had put points down in Talbot Square in readiness for a future new junction.
But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives today revealed the track could have run up Clifton Road to St John’s Square, taking passengers directly into the shopping area and to the Winter Gardens.
He added his group could only support a scheme if it also included a new bus station.
The first option was to run trams to St John’s Square
Coun Williams said: “When we had the foresight to have the points installed at Talbot Square when we instigated the new trams and the upgrade to the service, we were informed we had two future options if the funding became available.
“The first option was to run a tram extension up Clifton Street into St John’s Square and the heart of the town’s shopping district, or up Talbot Road to form part of a fully integrated transport interchange that included an upgraded bus station.
“At the time we would have supported the concept of a full transport hub, but without a bus station being included into the scheme there is little point of spending £20m on an inland tram extension that does not connect with all transport services.
“Most of the people I have talked to and the majority of the letters and blogs to The Gazette have confirmed nobody is in favour of this tram extension without the bus station.”
The current scheme includes a tram terminal on the site of Wilkinson’s, which is being relocated.
The council has ruled out a bus station, but is considering a bus hub with a series of bus stops close to the railway station.
It says linking the tramway to the train station will integrate the existing tramway with rail services for the first time, and “improve connectivity both within Blackpool, and to the wider sub-region for commuters and for visitors accessing the resort”.