Work goes on to tempt back top politicians

Winter Gardens bosses are holding on to hopes that major political players could return to the resort for their party conference.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 4:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 5:48 pm
Margaret Thatcher and a young William Hague in 1977
Margaret Thatcher and a young William Hague in 1977

It is eight years since Blackpool last staged a major political gathering.

But Michael Williams, who runs the Winter Gardens, insists the wind could change again.

And he made it clear that while David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron might not be booked in this year there is still business being done.

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Tony Blair in 2006

Shop workers union USDAW have been in Blackpool this week, backing up that point.

“We do still host some conferences.” said Mr Williams

“We have USDAW and the National Pensioners which are vitally important to the resort.

“But as far as the party political conference goes they have changed how they operate and where they host their conferences.”

David and Samantha Cameron in 2007

Blackpool, in common with the majority of seaside towns, has fallen behind in the conference race.

This year the Conservative Party conference will be held in Birmingham and Labour will gather in Liverpool.

But Mr Wiliams made it clear Blackpool is working hard to win back business.

“The changes in recent years been at the cost of the seaside resort, the traditional conferences in the likes of Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton,” said Mr Williams

Tony Blair in 2006

“They are going now to Manchester and Liverpool and Birmingham where they do have the purpose built facilities.

“But if you think of the Empress Ballroom there’s a fantastic tradition of party political conferences in there.

“Every British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill has spoken on that stage at some point at a conference.

“We’ll never lose that tradition, alongside our colleagues at Visit Blackpool hopefully we’ll change their minds and encourage them to return.”

David and Samantha Cameron in 2007