Blackpool attractions saved from spending cuts

Michael Hunt

Blackpool Council can continue with its plans for the Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens after its refurbishment project was reapproved by the Government.

As part of a £38.9m deal, the council announced in March it would be purchasing the Tower and Winter Gardens from the current operator Leisure Parcs.

The £38.9m investment would come from the Northwest European Regional Development Fund, which has contributed £14m, North West Development Agency, £7.9m, Blackpool Council, £10m, and the Homes & Communities Agency, £7m.

However, funding was hanging in the balance after the plans were facing the possibility of being put under review, following the formation of new coalition Government.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, said: "It's very positive news that the Blackpool Leisure Attractions redevelopment is not on the Government's list for review. The significant economic benefits that will be generated as a result of the project make it a compelling case for investment. I'm delighted that it will be going ahead."

The decision will put the attractions in public ownership for the very first time and pave the way for a major regeneration programme that aims to bring the expertise of the leisure operator Merlin Entertainments Group to the area, which already operates internationally branded attractions including the London Eye, London Dungeon and Legoland.

A £10m programme of repairs is planned for the Tower with the first phase of the project expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the 2011 tourism season.

The Winter Gardens will undergo a first phase refurbishment and upgrading programme to create a new multi-purpose conferencing venue for events and functions.

The Treasury also confirmed plans to cut Regional Leaders Board 4NW, as leaked last month, along with all others around the country.

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