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Super Casino axed

The super-casino, due to be built in a East Manchester, will not go ahead. The government has releasing a package of funding to develop 'Sportcity' on the same site instead.

Approved in the final year of Tony Blair's premiership, the super casino and 16 smaller casinos were to be built following the passing of the Gambling Act.

Gordon Brown quickly backtracked over the decision to build the vast super-casino. Smaller regional casinos will still go ahead. Today's announcement coincides a report outlining, "alternatives to casino-led regeneration" from the Department for culture, media and sport.

Hazel Blears said English Partnerships have set-aside £10M to accelerate the delivery of Sportcity, the largest concentration of sporting venues in Europe. The money will be used for site preparation.

Ideas include a new BMX centre, an extreme sports centre including a snowboarders half-pipe, a scuba pool, abseiling and climbing walls, and a sky-diving simulator and white-water rafting course.

The development of Sportcity is expected to create 4,000 new jobs - 1,600 at Sportcity, and the rest from the wider regeneration. The casino would have created 3,500 jobs at the casino.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England will also conduct a study into the demand for higher and further education in Manchester.

Ms Blears will chair a ministerial group, to steer upcoming projects in Manchester, such as:

- An application for the Transport Innovation Fund, to increase capacity of public transport, and reduce congestion in the city
- A new Transport Hub to provide increased rail links across the North West, subject to a Network Rail study
- Refurbishment of the former Sharp building to house computer gaming company Redvision, and a hub for new games and media businesses
- Three new skills academies: on skills, facilities management and digital media.

According to the DMCS, "measuring the impact of a regional casino on local job creation is highly problematic - as is measuring the effect on inward investment and any other knock-on benefits.

"The relatively high pay of casino jobs, for example, can attract commuters from outside the area, which would mean that local people do not necessarily benefit, but would still bear the brunt of any risks faced."

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said: "This £10m boost for Sportcity will unlock huge sporting potential in East Manchester and attract visitors from across the UK, and beyond. It's another piece of the jigsaw in Manchester's regeneration success story, and can help to create new jobs.

"The new ministerial group will also ensure that success continues well into the future by giving the Government's support to city leaders as they drive forward new jobs, more skills and better transport for our communities."

Blears also announced a £300M package for Blackpool, which was the surprise loser when the super-casino was originally proposed, to improve its infrastructure and schools. "This funding will provide a real boost for Blackpool. Our response to the Blackpool Taskforce report builds on the £85M already confirmed for the tram, and will continue to drive forward the transformation of Blackpool's future," she said.

Leader of Manchester City council Sir Richard Leese said: "We will be scrutinising the announcement in detail and keeping all options under review.

"We are disappointed with the Government's expected announcement. We believe a regional casino provides the best regeneration benefits for East Manchester and we will continue to pursue this. A regional casino will deliver around 3,500 new jobs for East Manchester and an increase in Manchester's GVA equivalent to £1 billion over 10 years.

"We have put irrefutable evidence to the Government that demonstrates a regional casino in a properly regulated environment can bring major benefits to an area like East Manchester, rather than the harm caused by other unregulated forms of gambling such as the internet.

"Manchester's key regeneration objectives remain to bring jobs to deprived communities and to get local people into those jobs. To that end we will engage with Government to achieve our regeneration objectives for the city as a whole and East Manchester in particular, but we need the clearest commitment that any package would deliver the greatest possible benefits," he said

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