Theresa May hints at Blackpool party conference return

Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May
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Prime Minister Theresa May has opened the door to the possibility of bringing Tory party conferences back to Blackpool.

In response to a letter from Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard she said she would be ‘very keen’ for the party chairman to find out more about new facilities being built at the Winter Gardens.

Updated artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool (30/11/16)

Updated artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool (30/11/16)

Last month the Government approved funding for a £25m new centre through the national Growth Deal programme.

Mr Maynard wrote to Mrs May about the prospect of bringing either the spring or autumn Conservative Party conference back to the resort.

Mrs May says in her letter she has ‘fond memories of Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool - including when I was party chairman in 2003’.

She adds: “I would be very keen for the present party chairman to visit to find out more about the plans for a new conference centre.”

Mr Maynard, who also wrote to Tory party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin, hailed the response as ‘promising’.

He said; “I was pleased with the Prime Minister’s response and I am sure Sir Patrick will visit.

“That visit will be a real opportunity to show the town off and I will work with stakeholders to ensure Sir Patrick leaves with the best possible impression of our town, which I believe is on the up.

“It is estimated when our conference goes to Manchester or Birmingham it brings in at least an additional £10m into the local economy.

“Bars, restaurants, hotels, and taxis are all busy with over 12,000 extra visitors, and I believe a boost to Blackpool’s economy of that nature will be good news for the town.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “I’m really pleased Paul has had such a positive response from the Prime Minister – we would be delighted to host the Conservative Party Conference here in Blackpool.

“I take every opportunity to promote Blackpool as a conference venue, with both the Labour leadership and with colleagues of other political persuasions.

“As word of our success in attracting funding for the new centre spreads, those conversations are happening much more frequently.

“Of course attracting the major political conferences is hugely symbolic, and raises our profile hugely, and as I have already stated, one of the major parties has already made initial inquiries about 2019.

“We have already begun early marketing activities around our new conferencing offer, as many of these events are planned up to five years in advance.”

Blackpool last hosted a major party conference when the Conservatives came here in 2007 but the new conference centre will not be ready until the end of 2019 at the earliest.

The Tory conference is due to be held in Manchester this year and Birmingham in 2018, while Labour will go to Brighton this year and Liverpool in 2018.