Council-owned Blackpool B&B 'looks abandoned'

The boarded up former Ocean Hotel
The boarded up former Ocean Hotel
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Town hall chiefs have been accused of allowing a hotel in their ownership to fall into neglect.

Blackpool Council bought the former Ocean Hotel on North Promenade in 2016 for £203,000 in order to transform it into an 'Art B&B' - but two years on the building remains boarded up.

READ MORE Project update Ocean Hotel on the Promenade

Now the council says work is due to start soon on the project after "a long development process". A fundraising campaign has also raised £1.2m for the project.

But opposition councillors branded the property a "disgrace", and warned the council could not clamp down on other eyesore hotels when a guesthouse it owned had been allowed to fall into neglect.

Coun Paul Galley said: "We were told the Ocean Hotel would be an arts hotel, but it looks abandoned and is boarded up.

"Anyone going past would think this is a disgrace. We borrowed £203,000 for this, when is it going to be open?"

Coun Galley spoke out after councillors at full council criticised operators including the Ibis at the former Clifton Hotel in Talbot Square and Britannia which owns The Metropole, for neglecting their hotels.

Speaking after the meeting Coun Galley added: "We cannot complain about the poor state of buildings owned by private developers if we treat our own buildings in such a poor way."

Conservative councillor Maxine Callow said the council had "to lead by example".

he said: "How can any of these operators take us seriously when we're saying your property is a mess and do something about it if one of our own properties has been neglected like this?

"It weakens our position and is a positive disgrace."

A council spokesman said the building was on a long lease to the Art B&B CIC (community interest company).

He added: "After a long development process there is a fully designed scheme, planning permission, a local contractor ready to start on site, a highly skilled board and a new commercial operations director in place to deliver the business plan and refurbishment of the former Ocean Hotel as Art B&B."

Michael Trainor, director of Art B&B CIC, said: “This is a more complicated project than a normal b&b refurbishment but the aim is to start the refurbishment in the next few weeks and create a new facility and refurbished building that the people of Blackpool will be proud of.

“Art B&B is a community interest company and will re-invest profits from the hotel operation into training, development and a creative programme for Blackpool communities as well as creating a new community facility on the ground floor.

“£1.2m has been raised from a range of charities and public funding bodies (external to Blackpool) and will create around nine full time equivalent jobs for local people."