Charging people to see the Illuminations "not an option"

Charging people to go through Blackpool Illuminations is not an option despite pressure on the council to reduce the £2m cost of putting on the annual display, councillors have been told.

Town hall chiefs say making visitors pay would be too damaging to the resort’s economy at a time when most seaside towns have shut for the winter.

Alan Cavill, director of communications and regeneration at Blackpool Council, told a meeting of the audit committee that new ways of financially supporting the Lights were being looked at.

It currently costs the council around £2m a year to put on the display.

Donations from the public are collected on the Promenade, with a total of  £112,866 collected during last year’s Lights.

Mr Cavill said:

“We have looked at funding in every way, shape or form and we are looking at how we can generate more money and how we can experiment with what we deliver.

“In terms of commercialisation through charging, the balance is that the Illuminations is like the goose that laid the golden egg.

“They bring three million people in when other resorts are closed. If you charge people, that number will fall.

While charging might help the council in terms of paying for the Illuminations, it would change the dynamic by not having as many people coming to the town as would have done.”

Mr Cavill added it was ‘a myth’ that people who visit Blackpool for the Lights do not spend any money.

Surveys show while around 30 per cent of visitors just drive through the display, the rest either stay for the day or for the weekend.

He said:

“So it isn’t true to say people don’t spend any money in Blackpool. Therefore driving numbers down would defeat the object of having the Illuminations in the first place.”

Last year one of the potential funding options being considered was to create a town-wide Business Improvement District which would raise money through a one per cent precept on the business rates.

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