By Louise Bozec
Hoteliers in Blackpool are blaming the Labour Party for provoking an exodus of tourists from the resort.
Many are struggling to fill their rooms because of the unseasonal weather, the strong pound and the growing trend towards people taking shorter breaks.
But, they say, tourists are also staying away as a result of Labour's announcement in March that it was to abandon its tradition of holding conferences in the seaside town because its hotels were "shabby" and their conference rooms "too small".
Christine Shephard has run the 30-bedroom Queensgate hotel with her husband Grahame for 11 years. She said: "This has been the worst May, June and beginning of July I have ever known. The Labour Party has apologised, but once you throw mud it sticks. They have really done it for us."
Echoing her concerns, Daphne Meekins, owner of the nine-bedroom Gynn View, said: "They said the hotels were shabby. Well, mine is not. They should have looked at all hotels before they said that.
"We are having a rough summer and Labour has not helped. They have scarred everyone."
Peter Lovatt, a partner in Blackpool accountants John Potter and Harrison, says that although profits for some smaller hotels are down by between 5% and 20%, there is hope. "Blackpool has been run down by people who should know better, but it has a lot to offer and it is time we started talking positively about it," he said.
- See Caterer's spotlight on Blackpool, 13 August