Labour chief wants party back in resort

Deputy leader of the Labour party Tom Watson with Labour supporters in Blackpool town centre.
Deputy leader of the Labour party Tom Watson with Labour supporters in Blackpool town centre.
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Labour’s deputy leader claimed his party’s commitment to a £10 minimum wage would “transform” incomes for many low paid workers in Blackpool, during a visit to the resort.

Tom Watson was in town to speak to delegates at the annual conference of shopworkers union Usdaw, being held at the Winter Gardens.

He also pledged to call on Labour colleagues to bring the party’s main autumn conference back to Blackpool which he said had seen major change in recent years.

Speaking to The Gazette after addressing the conference, he said: “It was really great to be back at the Winter Gardens and to see how investment has changed the Winter Gardens.

“I would love to see the Labour party conference come back here.

“I am going to ask the Labour team in our office to get in touch as I have so many happy memories of being here.”

Mr Watson told the conference Labour “consistently fought for safer conditions, higher wages and protections for workers. That’s Labour’s brand. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.”

Afterwards he said: “Recent cuts the Tories have made to working tax credits mean an average family on tax credits will be £2,500 a year worse off.

“That affects a lot of retail workers and seasonal workers.

“We are committed to a £10 minimum wage if we are in government, and greater rights for workers in the workplace.

“For many people in Blackpool Labour’s commitment to a £10 minimum wage, would mean their income would be transformed.”

Mr Watson also said Brexit must not mean gains made due to the impact of European investment were lost.

He said: “There is currently EU support for things like cleaning up the beaches.

“We have to make sure when we come out of the EU that investment in areas like Blackpool is maintained by the UK government.

“I can remember visiting Blackpool on weekends and away-days when parents were worried about their children going into the sea because of the water quality.

“But since then it has been transformed.”

Last year the resort gained its first Blue Flag in recognition of the quality of the bathing water.

Mr Watson also said Labour would support local government budgets which have seen Blackpool lose the equivalent of £450m over the past seven years.

Mr Watson added: “We have had seven years of severe cuts to local government budgets which has had a huge impact on areas of like social care, so in the long term councils will have much greater support from central government if we win on June 8.”