Casino U-turn a ‘body blow' for Manchester

19 July 2007 by
Casino U-turn a ‘body blow' for Manchester

Business leaders in Manchester have hit out at Gordon Brown's decision to reconsider the construction of the UK's first supercasino in the city, claiming it will seriously stifle hospitality growth.

The plan to develop a supercasino in a run-down area of east Manchester would have generated an estimated £265m investment and created about 2,700 direct and indirect jobs, 90% of which would have been in hospitality.

Chris Fletcher, policy director for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, described the new prime minister's U-turn on Tony Blair's flagship policy as "a body blow".

"One of the most successful industries in Manchester has been hotels. We have had major investment from hotel chains, particularly in the city centre, and we were looking for more of the same," he said. "The casino would have added a real landmark, and that, in turn, would have driven further growth in the sector. The decision puts that growth in serious jeopardy."

Stephen Miles, chairman of the Manchester Hotel Association, added: "Thankfully, we were never reliant on the bid like some other cities. We would be interested to hear how the new prime minister intends to replace those jobs, which were a pretty major reason for building the casino."

Brown ruled out the development of the supercasino site in east Manchester in a speech to the House of Commons last week, when he urged MPs to look at "a better way of meeting [the] economic and social needs of the area".

Manchester was originally a 16-1 outsider to win the supercasino bid, beating bookmakers' favourites Blackpool and Greenwich.

By Christopher Walton

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