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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 16:25 GMT
Manchester wins Labour conference
Prime Minister Tony Blair
In 1998 the party said it would not return to Blackpool
The Labour Party will hold its 2006 autumn conference in Manchester and not Blackpool, it has been revealed.

The decision is yet to be ratified with the National Executive Committee, which is expected to take place next week.

It will be the first time since 1917 that the party has chosen Manchester to host the annual event.

The city hosted the party's spring conference in March last year when it was praised for its security provisions and hotels.

The move is a break with tradition which sees the main parties alternate their main conferences between the seaside resorts of Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton.

"It amazes me that the Labour Party, which is a working class party, doesn't want to come to the main working class resort in the country
Colin Asplin, Blackpool Hotel Association
Paul Simpson, a spokesman for Marketing Manchester said: "If that is the case then we would be delighted.

"I don't think it is a secret that Manchester has bid for this event.

"It will have a huge impact on the city and the region."

The news has come as a blow to Blackpool which hoped to host the conference.

In 1998 the party said it would not return to Blackpool but did so in 2002.

The following year Bournemouth hosted the event before the party signed a two year deal for Brighton to host the autumn conference.

Lost revenue

Colin Asplin, Blackpool Hotel Association said: "We have tried very hard to make sure they come back to Blackpool.

"Obviously we have failed in that. I just hope Manchester can handle the crowds.

"It amazes me that the Labour Party, which is a working class party, doesn't want to come to the main working class resort in the country."

This is terminal for Blackpool... the Labour Party will never go back
Jonathan Tongue, Politics Professor at Salford University
The exact cost to Blackpool in terms of lost revenue for hotel accommodation is not yet known but it is thought that block bookings will be taken at the major Manchester hotels after the official announcement later this week.

Jonathan Tongue, Politics Professor at Salford University told BBC's Politics Show on Sunday: "Labour has been looking for an excuse to leave Blackpool for a number of years now and this is their big moment.

"Labour has been disenchanted with Blackpool for a long, long time.

"They claim that the accommodation is not good enough, but, really there is social class issue here.

"I think there is a certain category within the party who prefer the increasing urban sophistication of Manchester rather than the gaudy delights of Blackpool Illuminations on a wet October week.

"This is terminal for Blackpool... the Labour Party will never go back."




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