Council bosses have defended plans to invest £400,000 of public money in a bid to attract private investment in an historic Blackpool venue.
Blackpool’s leisure and tourism boss said borrowing money for the local authority to spend on revamping the former Tower Lounge, in order to attract a new operator, was investing in the future of the resort.
This is an investment in the future of Blackpool
The comments came as the proposal to earmark the cash was rubber-stamped at last night’s executive meeting at the town hall.
The Gazette, last week, revealed the council’s plans to borrow the necessary cash to redevelop the 1,700 capacity venue into what could be a family and food oriented venue.
But the move has split opinion between those who welcome the investment by the Tower’s owners and some opposition councillors and local businesses who said it was inappropriate for a council to invest public money in a private venture.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and leisure, hit back: “This is an investment in the future of Blackpool.
“We know the figures will stack up.
“Yes, we’re borrowing money, but I’m quite confident the agreements will see that money come back into the council.
“We have trawled through this country and beyond to find a suitable occupier and I’m convinced that this is the right choice for Blackpool to become more family-oriented.”
The Tower Lounge, which closed its doors in November, had long posed problems for its council owners.
Revellers drinking in the establishment poured out onto Blackpool’s Bank Hey Street shopping thoroughfare, and clashed with the family-friendly offerings in the rest of the Tower complex.
Coun Cain said it was key for the council to invest in its property stock in order for it to be taken on by others, stressing that to make the best of their buildings they should adopt the same approach taken by private property owners.
He added: “Some people are saying we shouldn’t get involved with the private sector.
But if you have the properties as an individual or business then you would make that property fit for purpose for someone to come in.
“This enables us to enhance the negotiations that have already taken place with letting companies.
“We hope this agreement will move that project forward.”
Coun Cain added the move will attract more families and overnight visitors to the town, to the benefit of businesses, hoteliers and attractions.