Earlier this year there was much celebration at the news that Transport for Lancashire were going to release more than £16 million towards extending the Blackpool Tramway to North Station, but it could now turn out that this celebration was premature as the leader of Blackpool Council has thrown doubt over the scheme questioning whether they can afford their £2 million contribution.
Cllr Simon Blackburn has warned that there may be a stark choice for the Council – fund the tramway extension or put the £2 million towards a museum in the town’s Winter Gardens. At the same time he also questioned whether the disruption the extension would bring to Talbot Road – which has only recently been dug up – is worth it and where the traffic displaced by the trams would go.
These incredible statements were made by Cllr Blackburn at a recent Council meeting. At the meeting he said: “It all depends on whether or not we can find the £2m that we will have to put into the bid monies in order to make this happen. And if you think that were we to be successful with the Heritage Leisure Fund bid for the museum, we would be looking at a contribution of £2m over the period of the museum being developed. If we find £2m, and I’m not sure we have it, would we spend it on the tramway or the museum, are we likely to be able to spend it on both? Probably not. The second consideration is do we want to go through the palaver of digging up Talbot Road again? Do we want to shift all the traffic that would need to be shifted as we wouldn’t be able to have trams and cars on the same road?”
A report is due to go before the Council’s executive in February after which a final decision will be made. But the fact that the leader of the Council now seems to be against the plan will surely be damaging to the prospects of the extra £2 million being found, it could well be a case of so near but yet so far?