- 6 Jun 2005
Blackpool's bid for £88m to upgrade its world famous tram system today won the crucial backing of the region's political leaders.
Members of the North West Regional Assembly today agreed to include the historic, but ageing, tramway in a list of priority projects which it thinks should be given a share of £1.35bn government funding.
The cash has provisionally been earmarked for major transport schemes in the region over the next 10 years.
But although a major hurdle has been cleared, the resort must still wait until March to hear if the Government will give it the cash.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Roy Fisher, who is a member of the regional assembly, said he was delighted the bid had been backed.
He said: "The iconic tramway is a key part of both Blackpool's heritage and its future.
"Upgrading the tram system is critical to our regeneration plans. It's a crucial element of Blackpool's aspirations to transform itself into a world-class resort. We must provide speedy and reliable means of travel, and a new revamped tram system will improve the service for generations to come."
Coun Fisher said the Blackpool bid offered "excellent value for money", and this latest endorsement adds significant weight to the resort's bid to regenerate itself.
A major overhaul of track and complete new state-of-the-art rolling stock is part of the proposed scheme.
And he called on Blackpool residents to get behind the bid.
Coun Fisher said: "There is still a long way to go, however, as this decision is still just one stage of the process and still needs to be approved by the Department for Transport, so it cannot be taken for granted. Much hard work and argument lies ahead. None of Blackpool's plans to revive its fortunes are possible without the welcome support of its residents. This latest tramway success is a fantastic step in the right direction, but it's not a done deal. So we urge everyone to get behind the 'Blackpool 2006' campaign, and get behind the tram bid.
"For example, write to the Department for Transport, explaining how critical the tramway is to Blackpool's transformation into a world-class resort, and how you don't want to see 100 years of public transport and heritage close."