‘You welcome anything which brings money into town’

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Hoteliers today backed the idea of a major new casino in Blackpool.

As revealed exclusively in The Gazette on Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron says his Government would “look favourably” on a new casino bid from Blackpool.

Although a Las Vegas-style supercasino remains off-limits, Mr Cameron suggested the resort could still be considered for one of the remaining large casino licences issued as part of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Blackpool Council says it would be interested in the opportunity to speak to the Government as it searches for investment for the former Central Station site.

And Coun Allan Matthews, who spoke out during his tenure as Mayor of Blackpool when Manchester was awarded the later scrapped supercasino in 2007, said: “Blackpool would still benefit from a casino, but what form it would take I don’t know.”

Hoteliers near the site, which is currently used as a car park, have welcomed any potential move.

John Meehan, owner of the New Derby Hotel, on Chapel Street, said: “It would be a brilliant idea, we need something to bring people in.”

Gary Jarvis, from the Doric House Hotel, on Coop Street, said: “Whether it be a casino or whatever, if it’s going to encourage people to come and visit Blackpool it’s a good thing.”

Emma Hunt, from the Tam O’Shanter Hotel, also on Coop Street, said: “Blackpool is a mini Las Vegas and I can’t see any problem with it. You welcome anything that brings money into the town.”

Susan Potter, from the Ardwick House Hotel, on York Street, added: “There was talk of an indoor ski slope but that’s never happened so I think something needs to be done.

“We need something else to bring businesses back into Blackpool.”

It is thought securing more than one of the large licences could create a cluster of casinos bringing hotels, conference facilities and entertainment venues with it together with much needed jobs and private sector investment.

Coun Paul Galley, who represents Anchorsholme, has previously called for the site to be restored for its original purpose.

He said: “Regardless of what is eventually built on the old Central Station site its financial success will only be ensured if it has good transport links. For that to happen we must leave a box-like space in its building design for us one day to eventually build a railway station there allowing us to extend the railway line from Blackpool South to the site.

“Only by having national rail access will a building on this site work and probably secure the finances to build it in the first place.”

But Steven Bate, a former Liberal Democrat councillor who opposed the campaign to bring a supercasino to Blackpool seven years ago, cast doubts about any new plan ever coming to fruition.

He said: “It won’t go any further, it’s nonsense. There have been 16 licences issued and only two have been built.

“Does that not indicate that businesses aren’t interested?”

And Coun Peter Callow, the former Tory leader of Blackpool Council, said: “In my mind this is no big deal.

“We supported the supercasino bid because we thought it was going to be a massive change for Blackpool.

“I’m for big ideas. On its own, in my view, this is not going to bring a massive change.

“We’ve got a big site there at Central Station and it needs a big project.”