Manchester’s super-casino plans scrapped
The Government has unveiled a £10m compensation package for east Manchester after it was officially announced today that the super-casino planned for the city will not go ahead.
The proposed site at Beswick, near Sportcity, could be turned into an Olympic-standard BMX centre, which could provide the city with the opportunity to host part of the 2012 London Games, as well as an extreme sports leisure centre which would include a sky-diving simulator, white water rafting centre and scuba pool.
Plans for a new rugby union stadium and academy that could eventually provide a new home for Stockport-based Sale Sharks have also been suggested.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham told MPs there was "no consensus" on whether to build a super-casino because of concerns over the negative impact a supercasino could have on the city.
He went on to emphasise that there were "important differences" between a super-casino – with 1,250 unlimited stake and jackpot machines – and the 16 approved casinos, none of which are planned for the North West.
The council has yet to comment on the possibility of future legal action.
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said: "We will be scrutinising today's announcement in detail and keeping all options under review.
"We are disappointed with the Government's expected announcement. We believe a regional casino provides the best regeneration benefits for east Manchester and we will continue to pursue this. A regional casino will deliver around 3,500 new jobs for east Manchester and an increase in Manchester's GVA equivalent to £1bn over 10 years.
"We have put irrefutable evidence to the Government that demonstrates a regional casino in a properly regulated environment can bring major benefits to an area like east Manchester, rather than the harm caused by other unregulated forms of gambling such as the internet.
"Manchester's key regeneration objectives remain to bring jobs to deprived communities and to get local people into those jobs. To that end we will engage with Government to achieve our regeneration objectives for the city as a whole and east Manchester in particular, but we need the clearest commitment that any package would deliver the greatest possible benefits.
"We are committed to doing all we can, and we have drawn up a range of regeneration options to benefit local people in east Manchester including the extension of the life of New East Manchester till 2014/15 with an associated budget of £20m per year; developments at Sportcity to create an additional 1,600 jobs; digital developments with 500 jobs; a national skills centre with 200 jobs; a digital and animation business cluster with 250 jobs and also the relocation of Government functions, including hundreds of jobs for local people."
Eddie Smith, acting chief executive of New East Manchester said: "We are of course disappointed with today's announcement. Over the last few years we have carefully considered a range of options for the site at Sportcity and found that the development of a regional casino would provide the greatest regeneration benefits for East Manchester and the surrounding area. We still believe this to be the case."
Beswick was originally chosen from seven competing areas around the UK as the site for the £250m casino. But when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, and following huge protest from anti-gambling campaigners, Brown decided to look again at the decision.
Manchester City Council said earlier this year that a legal challenge would be considered unless an alternative scheme which would result in the same level of regeneration was provided.