BLACKPOOL’S new Labour council has been accused of “seriously compromising” the town’s economy by scrapping the role of dedicated tourism chief.
The Tories have hit out at the move announced last week and claim it could damage annual visitor numbers which had risen to 13 million under the previous Conservative council.
But Labour, which is due to rubber stamp the move today, insists tourism remains a “key priority”.
Executive director of tourism and regeneration Helen France is being axed as part of a town hall cull which is seeing five senior management jobs go in order to save £1.8m over four years.
The council’s Conservative group deputy leader Coun Tony Williams said: “Labour has seriously compromised the town’s economic future and visitor growth by not appointing a dedicated senior tourism officer.
“The statutory role of chief finance officer seems to also be disappearing in their new structure at a time when prudence and creative accounting is essential.
“Whether Labour like it or not tourism is the main industry of the town and the millions of pounds it delivers into the local economy doesn’t just provide employment for the thousands who work directly in the industry, it provides essential income for local taxi operators, tradesmen, retailers, service providers and a massive range of businesses.”
He added: “We need a dedicated, focused and experienced individual whose absolute purpose is to maintain the recent excellent visitor number increases the Conservative administration were able to deliver.”
Hoteliers have previously raised their concerns at the loss of the tourism director.
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said tourism remained a priority.
He said: “The council’s statutory obligations will continue to be met and not with ‘creative accounting’ but with open and transparent local government where the people of Blackpool will understand what they are getting for their money.
“Tourism remains a key priority for this administration and is reflected in the chief executive’s proposed new officer structure at assistant chief executive level.
“This administration will be spending £1.8m less over four years on senior managers and redirecting funds into things like saving libraries from closure and helping to maintain some services to vulnerable people.
“The public can judge for themselves which budget they prefer.”