Leader defends zero funding for resort

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council
Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council
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Wyre’s council leader has hit back at claims the government has snubbed Labour-run authorities when it comes to handing out extra cash.

Yesterday The Gazette revealed Blackpool was getting nothing from a £300m Government cash pot intended to help struggling authorities, while councils in the south were receiving millions.

MP Gordon Marsden

MP Gordon Marsden

Lancashire, which is also Labour controlled, will receive £2.3m of the transitional funding, but 83 per cent of the total funding is going to Tory-run councils, mostly in the south.

But Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Conservative-run Wyre Council, said: “My understanding is we are getting £5,000 which is not an awful lot, so I think the idea Conservative councils are getting looked at differently from Labour councils is not true.

“In terms of Lancashire, they are getting a significant amount. A lot of it is to do with being rural, which Blackpool cannot be described as.

“The amount we are getting is insignificant. The big issue for us will be in a couple of years when we see the New Homes Bonus and Business rates grant.”

Fylde Council is receiving £112,000 in transitional relief over two years.

A spokesman said: “We welcome the money which will help us adjust in readiness for two years’ time when our budget will be reduced substantially. District councils have been hit very hard and Fylde is suffering a 14 per cent drop in spending power over the next four years.

“This won’t cover the shortfall but it will help.”

Yesterday Blackpool Council’s leader Coun Simon Blackburn branded the way the transitional funding had been distributed as “scandalous”.

Blackpool has had to make total savings of £93m since 2010, with £25m due to be slashed from next year’s budget.

During a House of Commons debate on Wednesday on local government finance, Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden told Communities Minister Greg Clark Blackpool faced cuts of 4.9 per cent in the coming year, compared to an average of 2.8 per cent in England.

He said: “Despite that, and despite the Secretary of State’s welcome comments yesterday about looking at the way in which demographics in certain areas, particularly those with large numbers of older people, might be dealt with, under this formula Blackpool gets absolutely no transitional relief at all. Is there any logic or justice in that?”