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Gazette claims victory on casino and wins backing of 11,500

The Gazette in Blackpool is claiming victory in its campaign to force a re-think of the Government’s supercasino proposals.

The Department of Culture’s bid to get an order passed through Parliament ratifying a recommendation for the country’s only supercasino to be in Manchester was narrowly defeated in the House of Lords, throwing the Government’s plans into chaos.

The Gazette collected 11,514 names on its petition calling for Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell to re-think before the “flawed” recommendation was voted on.

The newspaper also wrote to all MPs and Lords urging them to consider carefully before the vote at the end of March.

A Gazette delegation met local MPs and supporters from the Lords to present the petition at 10 Downing Street.

Dossiers with a critique of the report and some of the paper’s hard-hitting front pages “Think Again, Tessa!” and “They Got It Wrong” were also handed in to the Department of Culture and Tony Blair’s office.

The petition was widely referred to during the debate in both Houses of Parliament.

When launched on February 1, after the Casino Advisory Panel chose Manchester over long time favourites Blackpool and the Dome, the Sign Up For Blackpool campaign was labelled the “most important ever launched” by The Gazette.

Editor David Helliwell said: “This is a fantastic result for Blackpool which keeps the supercasino dream alive.

“We believed from day one that the CAP had got it wrong and it was vital that Blackpool doggedly fought its corner.

“That’s what we’ve done – and proved the doom mongers wrong along the way.

“We don’t yet know the full implications of yesterday’s vote but we do know that our readers have helped create a little bit of history and we’re incredibly proud of everyone who backed Blackpool.”

Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News branded the latest decision “petty politics”, and a move which could cost the city and its people dearly.

After celebrations marking the original decision, which briefly wrong-footed the paper, it is left wondering on the logic and fairness of the politicians’ voting.

It’s leader column yesterday said: “The Lords’ decision to reject Manchester as the site of Britain’s first supercasino was not a victory for democracy; it was a victory for petty politics which could cost this city and its people dearly.

“The amendment they backed – calling for separate votes on the site of the supercasino and the 16 smaller casinos – is as illogical as it is unfair.

“The only `winners’ were those who wished to give the government a bloody nose at the expense of a deprived Manchester community desperately in need of regeneration. No one else will be celebrating, nor should they be.

“It was not only a defeat for Manchester, it was a defeat for anyone who cares about the future of Britain’s most deprived areas and an insult to the independence of the panel, which came to the right conclusion based on factual evidence.”