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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 19:41 GMT
Brown ditches super-casino plan
Artist's impression of the proposed Manchester casino
The super-casino was to be built in east Manchester
The government has dropped plans to build a super-casino in Manchester, the BBC has learned.

The initial policy was for 40 super-casinos but this was scaled back first to eight, then to one, in the face of strong opposition.

Gordon Brown ordered a review of the plans shortly after he became Prime Minister last year.

The government's abandonment of the super-casino is confirmed in a letter to the Scottish and Welsh executives.

A formal announcement will be made to parliament in a few weeks.

Plans for 16 smaller casinos spread across the UK will still go-ahead.

I have never seen the reason why we should have Blackpool and Manchester pitted against each other... let's do both of them
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

It was thought the super-casino would attract up to 265m of private investment and create about 3,000 jobs as well as regenerating a run-down area of east Manchester.

But Gordon Brown put the plans on hold and asked Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to carry out a review into other ways to regenerate Manchester.

Senior councillors in the city have said they would seek a judicial review if plans were dropped.

Manchester City Council is refusing to comment at this stage, but last year council leader Richard Leese expressed concern at the lack of progress on the casino and requested a visit to Downing Street to talk to Mr Brown.

At the time he wrote: "I've asked for this meeting with the Prime Minister because there seems to be no progress on our plans to create a Leisure City, anchored by an international destination casino.

"Twelve months ago an independent panel recommended that Manchester should be granted permission to licence the only British regional casino following a rigorous inspection and examination process.

"But the project has been stalled by controversy including sour losers, inaccurate information, a vote in the unelected House of Lords and then a Government review."

'Flip-flop tactics'

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport insisted that no final decision had been taken on the super-casino and said the letters were a required part of the consultation process.

"We are statutorily required to write to Scottish and Welsh ministers to consult before making a decision how to proceed," a spokeswoman said.

"No final decision has been made," she added, saying it would be done "as soon as possible"

The Liberal Democrats said government policy on the issue was in disarray.

The Conservatives said the government's "flip-flops had left the city's regeneration plans in tatters".

Both Blackpool and Manchester were in the running for the super-casino in the north west.

It was seen as a lifeline for the ailing Lancashire seaside town as well as a chance to revive a run down part of Manchester.

The then Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Personally I have never seen the reason why we should have Blackpool and Manchester pitted against each other.

"If the investment is there and able to be done, let's do both of them."

He claimed in the House of Commons that only Conservative intervention in the Lords had jeopardised the Manchester casino, whereas Labour's original plan would have allowed super-casinos at both Manchester and Blackpool.



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