Exciting times are ahead if you're a resident of Blackpool. Government ministers have made claims that Blackpool is to be transformed into the most exciting resort in Europe by a huge regeneration initiative.
This week, Blackpool Council announced that the residents of this great seaside town will now own Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens following the Council buying both institutions for £40million. For the first time in 116 years, these beautiful yet sadly neglected buildings return to public ownership.
The money came in from European funds to aid our ailing resorts. It has been used to buy out Sir Trevor Hemmings' First Leisure Group who purchased the buildings and large tracts of Blackpool's seafront for a reduced price in readiness for Blackpool's proposed Super Casinos where we lost out to Manchester. Gordon Brown later scrapped all proposals for Super Casinos. Since then, the iconic buildings and tower have been left without investment and looking a little shabby from their previous greatness.
The new dawn sees Merlin Entertainments (of London Dungeon and Legoland) to help regenerate Blackpool's entertainment and plan to revamp the Tower complex to include a 'Dungeon' style theme similar to the well-established London and York Dungeon. If you've ever been to either Dungeon, they're great fun (if a little gory).
There are also proposals to invest in the WInter Gardens complex to restore its past glory as a conference centre hosting the political party conferences of old. With that, will come the inevitable building of new, fit for purpose hotels to rival Manchester and Liverpool.
Great news for the town and for the people of Blackpool. Public ownership is refreshing and unusual in these days of profiteering and 'outsourcing'. Perhaps now there's a chance these beautiful buildings will be restored to their former glory and be considered world class.
I can't help thinking though, that's there's always a cost for this kind of huge investment. I seem to remember being finished abruptly from my job as a casual worker whilst working for Blackpool Council during my nursing training. The job supplemented my bursary and being finished just before christmas due to a decision to reduce costs was difficult at the time. My colleagues in permanent jobs were facing pay cuts and possible redundancies. I applaud public ownership and hope that the proposed increased visitor numbers justify the costs.