Delay fears over Blackpool regeneration

Conservative Leader Tony Williams

Blackpool’s council leader has hit back at claims major regeneration projects in the resort are suffering repeated delays.

Coun Simon Blackburn spoke out in response to statements by Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams that capital projects including the tramway had run over schedule.

Coun Williams told a meeting of the full council he feared the same would happen to the £300m project to bring a leisure development to the Central Station site.

But Coun Blackburn retorted: “To suggest there is an overall issue with capital projects over-running and over-budget I’m afraid is simply not the case.”

He confirmed delays to the tramway extension between North Pier and North Station were due to the failure to relocate the Wilko store.

Coun Blackburn said: “Short of burrowing through it, which I understand the owners wouldn’t be too keen about, there is really not a lot we can do about that.”

But he added talks were ongoing.

He said: “We will be moving ahead on the tramway but we will need to move Wilkinson’s and there are a number of things going on in the background to resolve that issue.

“That essentially is around the ownership of the Houndshill Centre and our ability to do business with the people who own that mall. Watch this space.”

He added none of the dates in relation to the development of Central Station over the next decade had slipped and the council is now in the final stages of agreeing the land transaction.

Coun Williams had asked for a full audit of the council’s capital projects after it emerged both the tramway and Winter Gardens conference centre have fallen behind schedule.

Both were due to become operational this year, but hitches have delayed them until 2020.

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