Covid delay to free Blackpool attractions promise

The pledge was for free tickets to attractions such as The Sandcastle Water ParkThe pledge was for free tickets to attractions such as The Sandcastle Water Park
The pledge was for free tickets to attractions such as The Sandcastle Water Park
An election pledge to give Blackpool residents free entry to attractions in the resort has had to be delayed due to Covid 19.

The town’s Labour group made the promise as part of its manifesto at the May 2019 local elections when it retained control of the town hall for a third term.

Now town hall leaders say it would be unfair to expect attractions to offer free tickets when they are already struggling to operate under current restrictions.

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But council deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell says she is hopeful the promise can be fulfilled next year.

Coun Gillian CampbellCoun Gillian Campbell
Coun Gillian Campbell

In a written response to Independent councillor Gary Coleman, who asked for an update during the last full council meeting, she said the scheme had been fully worked up and due to launch in early April.

But she added: “Clearly I could not launch a scheme to give access to attractions that by that time were not open and without any clear indication of when they were going to open again.

“Much of what we were offering to the people of Blackpool was in partnership with operators across the town.

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“As you can imagine, they are now in a very different position to the one that was in place back in March.

Coun Gary ColemanCoun Gary Coleman
Coun Gary Coleman

“Many of them are operating at a significantly reduced capacity and, of course, they have huge gaps in their budgets.

“Even the fully council operated attractions are suffering in the same way.”

She said it would be “wrong of the council to insist upon these businesses giving away free tickets in this very challenging time for them”.

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But it was hoped to postpone the scheme until next year “when we should be able to get the project back up to the levels we had proposed to launch in April.”

Coun Coleman said he understood why the scheme could not launch this year, but warned the Labour group still needed to fulfill its election pledge.

He said: “We are living in extraordinary times and, although disappointing to many people, I can understand why the promise of free entry for every resident will probably have to be fulfilled next year.

“It is imperative we give our attractions the best chance possible to take as much revenue as they can during what is left of the holiday season.

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“Many attractions have limited space available for customers at the moment and it is vitally important they can accommodate as many paying guests as possible.

“Labour know that if they don’t keep their very public election promise from last year, they will have no chance of winning the next election in Blackpool in two and a half years time.”

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