Exclusive - Camerons views on Blackpool casino - Monday 21st of May 2007

TORY leader David Cameron has told The Gazette he would not support two supercasino licences being handed out.

Speculation has been rife the Government could propose giving licences to both Manchester and Blackpool in order to break the stalemate on getting its new gambling legislation through.

It follows a statement by Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons that if the investment was there, both casinos should be built.

But Mr Cameron said his partys stance remained there should only be one licence.

He told The Gazette: "The process for examining where it should go was flawed and it should be reviewed, and it should consider issues such as the appropriateness of a destination casino which Blackpool would be.

"We think there should be one to start with, but subject to a proper review. Tony Blair is making it up as he goes along."

But Mr Cameron, who was in Blackpool to speak at the Police Federation Conference at the Winter Gardens, said he was committed to reinvigorating Britains seaside towns.

He said: "I think its really important to get it right when it comes to what is happening in our seaside towns. We want them to be as successful in the 21st century as they were in the 20th century."

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said it was disappointing Mr Cameron refused to be flexible over the supercasino.

He said: "I think its disappointing at the moment hes not displaying the flexibility his own colleagues on Blackpool Council have urged on him. But there are lots of alternatives being looked at and the situation is still fluid."

He said getting secondary legislation through Parliament to change the bill would not necessarily depend on Tory support.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Peter Callow said that although he was also disappointed with Mr Camerons comments, he had written to the leader setting out how critical the casino was to the resort.

His letter states: "If this could be rescued under a new Conservative administration locally, with the support of the party nationally that Blackpool has consistently had, it would be a fantastic coup for us."

The government originally wanted eight supercasinos, but was forced to reduce the number to one by the Tories in order to get the Gambling Act through Parliament.

The order paper confirming the new licences was rejected by three votes in the House of Lords in March following a campaign in support of Blackpools bid which included a petition signed by 11,500 Gazette readers.

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