GMB still coming to Blackpool despite conference centre delay

Building work at the conference centre
Building work at the conference centre
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The opening of Blackpool's £26m new conference centre has been delayed again with town hall chiefs now saying the venue is expected to be ready by July 2020.

Originally it had been expected to open its doors this year, before the date was put back to next April.

But at a meeting of the council's tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee it emerged the date has been pushed back again to July.

It means it will not be ready in time to welcome the GMB union's annual conference which made a commitment in 2017 to return to Blackpool.

However the five-day gathering next June, which is expected to bring around 1,000 delegates, is still coming to the resort and will use the other areas of the Winter Gardens instead.

This could include the Spanish Hall which has recently been refurbished.

A council spokesperson said: “Due to the anticipated delay in completion of the new conference centre extension, the GMB will be utilising the existing Winter Gardens facilities.

“We look forward to welcoming them back to Blackpool and showcasing some of the major investment that has been made since they were last here in 2009, including new hotels and transport infrastructure, as well as the refurbishment of key areas of the Winter Gardens.”

The GMB last held its conference in Blackpool in 2009 when then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was among the speakers.

Delays in the construction of the conference centre have been blamed on the complexity of the work to attach a new building to the existing Victorian structure of the Winter Gardens.

The roof and main steel frame are now fully in place including structural connections to the Opera House and Empress Ballroom foyer with the next step being to fit cladding to the building.