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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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."