Main Menu
Top of Page
Top of Page
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email

Welcome to the News desk.

Councillors angry at plans to scrap supercasinos 07/2/2008
Hélène Mulholland

Manchester's proposed supercasino appears close to being formally scrapped as plans emerged for 16 smaller gambling venues across the UK.

The controversial Las Vegas-style casino was dubbed "dead in the water" by Whitehall insiders when Gordon Brown announced a review after becoming prime minister last year.

Officials are said by the BBC to have made clear it will be axed in a letter to devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

However, the 16 smaller casinos are still expected to go ahead and the decision is expected to be announced shortly after MPs return from next week's half-term break.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sports declined to reveal the contents of the letter but said it is part of a consultation with the Welsh and Scottish executive before a final decision is made.

"Our final decision will not be taken until ministers have had an opportunity to consider the views of Scottish and Welsh ministers," she said.

Officials in Manchester said last night they knew nothing of plans to scrap the supercasino, but were considering a legal challenge if the decision is confirmed.

As the parliamentary bill was passed to permit the building of all the casinos, the council could go to the courts if their supercasino is now shelved.

A spokesman for Manchester City Council said: "The city council is considering a judicial review. We are looking at all the options."

Council leader Richard Leese recently described in his blog a visit to Number 10 for talks on the plans with Gordon Brown and the secretary of state for communities and local government, the local MP for Salford, Hazel Blears.

Manchester MPs Tony Lloyd and Graham Stringer also attended the meeting.

Mr Brown stunned the Commons when he suggested regeneration might be a better way forward than building a supercasino in the city at one of his first appearances as prime minister.

A Scottish government spokesman said last night: "We have received notification from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the intention to proceed with eight large and eight small casinos - including a small casino at Stranraer - although understand that no final decision has been made." The 16 local authorities involved across the UK had been notified, he said.

A Welsh Assembly government spokesman said: "We have received a letter but we cannot disclose the contents of the letter without the permission of the DCMS." Large casinos are due to be built in Great Yarmouth, Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newham, Solihull and Southampton.

The sites chosen for smaller venues are Bath and North East Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lindsey, Luton, Scarborough, Swansea, Torbay and Wolverhampton.

The shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: "The government's flip-flops on this have left Manchester's regeneration plans in tatters and the gambling industry in turmoil. Is the government for casinos or against them? No-one is left any the wiser by this news. More importantly, they have totally failed to address the most critical question - namely how to tackle the rise in problem gambling."

The Liberal Democrat spokesman, Don Foster, accused government policy of being in disarray. "They repeatedly ignored those of us who expressed concern on this issue, led councils on a merry dance and have now performed a complete U-turn. We're surely entitled to know why Gordon Brown failed to mention any concerns about the impact these casinos could have when he was voting in favour of them last year. "

"Why did it take such a delay and a further review for the government to concede that opponents to the supercasino were right? It must now explain what plans will be put in place to provide the type of regeneration that was promised to the bid cities."
play online poker
Play Online Poker