Death knell for council’s tourism arm

Pictures Martin Bostock'Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2013'Gary Barlow
Pictures Martin Bostock'Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2013'Gary Barlow
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Town hall chiefs have agreed to wind up the council’s tourism company Marketing Blackpool and take its services “in-house” instead.

It comes as Marketing Blackpool is carrying £288,000 of debt and Blackpool Council needs to make £16m in savings.

But council leader Coun Simon Blackburn today insisted the move would not affect the level of events and attractions put on by the council.

He added: “Marketing Blackpool is no different to other aspects of the council, which is to ensure absolutely value for money and to make sure that every pound spent is well spent.

“We have identified that money can be saved here.”

Coun Blackburn said he could not promise the move would not affect jobs in the long term.

“Once Marketing Blackpool is in-house we will look at it as we would any other council department,” he said.

“I cannot say Marketing Blackpool will look exactly as it does now in six months time.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to wind up Marketing Blackpool at an executive meeting last night after Coun Blackburn introduced the item by saying: “We feel we need to make some changes.”

The company was set up two years ago to encourage private sector involvement and funding in marketing the town, though it is wholly financed by the town hall.

It is responsible for Blackpool’s major tourism events including the Illuminations Switch-On, which was this year described as a “shambles” by critics and made a loss of £372,109, including a six figure donation to Children In Need at the request of Gary Barlow for stepping in last minute after The Script was forced to pull out.

The council said officers and cabinet members had been considering winding up Marketing Blackpool for two months. The item will be brought to the full council at its meeting on November 27.