The boss of Blackpool Council’s under fire marketing arm has resigned from her post, it was today confirmed.
Natalie Wyatt has stepped down as managing director of Marketing Blackpool – the organisation which promotes the resort as a tourist destination.
It comes as the council looks to bring the “arms-length” company back under direct town hall control.
During her time in charge, Ms Wyatt spearheaded the introduction of the hugely successful Resort Pass which provides admission to nine attractions and achieved sales of almost £1m in its first year.
She also helped develop the town’s events programme including the successful Showzam! festival and Blackpool Air Show which was extended to two days this year.
However, Marketing Blackpool was heavily criticised in the summer after the annual Illuminations Switch-On.
The weekend concerts – hit by the 11th hour pull-out of rock band The Script and rescued by Gary Barlow in return for a donation to Children In Need – made a loss of£372,109.
The controversial introduction of a £34 ticket charge for the historically free Switch-On event was widely blamed as attendance figures were drastically down on previous years.
Blackpool Council’s assistant chief executive Alan Cavill today said Ms Wyatt was leaving to take a new job closer to her Manchester home.
And he thanked her for her “hard work and dedication” during her seven years in the resort.
Mr Cavill said: “Natalie Wyatt resigned as managing director of Marketing Blackpool more than a month ago. She is currently working her notice period and will be taking leave for the Christmas period.
“This decision was made due to her commute from Manchester and Natalie will be taking up a new post closer to home in the New Year.
“Both Blackpool Council and the Marketing Blackpool board would like to thank Natalie for her hard work and dedication over the past seven and a half years.
“Natalie’s vision led to the creation of a Destination Management Plan, secured almost half a million pounds worth of funding over the last year, delivered events attracting millions of visitors, transformed the Tourist Information Centre into a profitable business and was behind the launch and success of the UK’s first multi-attraction ticket – the Blackpool Resort Pass.”
Ms Wyatt’s responsibilities will now be absorbed by Mr Cavill’s role at the council.
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “I’m sorry to see Natalie go but I think she would have found her position very difficult following the decision to bring Marketing Blackpool in-house.
“I wish her well for the future.
“However we do need someone who is going to be looking after tourism going forward. It is not a job which should just be lumped in with something else when tourism is Blackpool’s main industry.”
Vote on marketing move
Councillors will vote tonight on proposals to bring Marketing Blackpool and its services back “in-house”.
The organisation was set up two years ago as an “arms-length company” to encourage private sector involvement though it is wholly council financed.
The organisation is carrying £288,000 of debt which would be recovered through the savings made by bringing the work back in-house, the council said.