Call for backing on airport future

Photo Neil Cross'Blackpool International Airport, Blackpool
Photo Neil Cross'Blackpool International Airport, Blackpool
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Town hall bosses in Blackpool and Fylde have today been called on to throw their full weight behind a bid to protect the future of the Blackpool Airport site.

Airport owners Balfour Beatty announced this week it is “likely” the commercial airport at Squires Gate will shut down on October 15 if a buyer is not found by October 7.

And the company has announced it is working with councils to draw up a plan for the future of the site.

It has led to calls from MPs for it to be turned into an enterprise zone – similar to that operated at the BAE sites at Samlesbury and Warton.

Today Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative Group on Blackpool Council, has called for both his authority and Fylde Council to support the idea.

He said: “Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard and I have been working together to try and fight the closure of the airport. We have both had several discussions with Government and commercial representatives since the announcement to close the airport was made.

“The time scales announced by Balfour Beatty have made it almost impossible to put together any level of Government support or major commercial interest.

“We have both spoken to the companies involved and we are now optimistic the airport will continue to operate, however not in its current manner. However, we believe that doesn’t mean things cannot change in the future and a full blown airport could operate from this site once more.

“To do that both Fylde Council and Blackpool Council have to work together towards putting a viable and beneficial plan for the Squires Gate site. They must provide a site that can attract a mixture of industry, hospitality, select housing and commerce etc as well as a full service airport.

“Paul and I have agreed that the best option for this site in the long term is for both councils to agree to approach the Chancellor to make Squires gate site an Enterprise Zone.

“This status would provide tax breaks and employment benefits that would attract new investment and industries to the area.

“Enterprise Zone status both protects the area from overdeveloped housing and also provides a strong, attractive commercial base that would support the re-growth of the airport service.

“With that in mind Paul Maynard MP has agreed to write formally to the Chancellor asking for his consideration in this matter but it would require both councils to show commitment and both also make application

“I will be writing to both Chief Executives and Leaders urging them to support this proposal by writing to the Chancellor to open dialogue and, through Paul Maynard, I will be requesting Mark Menzies MP also offer his full approval.”