Political rumpus consumes Blackpool’s £100m masterplan dream

Autumn 2020: The new IMAX cinema is due to be completed.''The project is part of the Houndshill extension and will create around 20 jobs.
Autumn 2020: The new IMAX cinema is due to be completed.''The project is part of the Houndshill extension and will create around 20 jobs.

Blackpool’s Tory leader has accused his main political rival of “wrapping up last year’s Christmas presents and popping them back under the tree” after a £100m masterplan for the resort was unveiled.

The Gazette reported last week how council leader Simon Blackburn heralded a timeline for the series of huge schemes, including the town’s first five-star hotel, a £7m road upgrade project, a new museum, and the expansion of the Houndshill Shopping Centre.

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

Some £26m is also being pumped into the new conference centre at the Winter Gardens, while a new IMAX cinema, Wilko shop and restaurant will open at the Houndshill.

The Gazette has reported on many of these schemes already - and it has upset Tory chief Coun Tony Williams.

He said: “Councillor Blackburn wants you to believe he’s just unveiled hundreds of millions ofpounds of new investment for Blackpool. He can’t pull the wool over the eyes of the hard-working people in our town.

“This is old money dressed up as new, all the Labour leadership of this council is doing is wrapping up last year’s Christmas presents and popping them back under the tree.

“What’s more Labour is being economical with the truth about where the money is coming from for these flagship projects.

“Take the jewel in the crown, the £25m conference centre at the Winter Gardens.

“The funding is being delivered by the Conservative Government as part of a £556m growth deal for the North. “The tramway extension, the quality roads corridor, the expansion of the Houndshill Centre, these are schemes that have all been previously announced and, in many cases, on which work has already begun.

“While our council leaders pat themselves on the back, livelihoods are at risk because of the huge disruption being caused.

“In three years’, time, thanks to this half-hearted masterplan, tram passengers can look forward to gliding past a host of empty shops.

“Visitors will be able to stay in new council-funded hotels while long established Blackpool businesses are left to rot.

“In the meantime, all the social, anti-social and health problems in the town are being left to fester and grow as residents’ council taxes are raised year on year to pay for their follies.”

Coun Blackurn said the projects together “will deliver transformational change” to the resort.