Last ditch to save casino

Manchester appeared to have won a five-day stay of execution last night before its planned supercasino is scrapped for good.

Culture secretary Andy Burnham had been due to announce that the project – worth 3,000 jobs and GBP 265m – would not go ahead.

There were no plans for the government to soften the blow by promising a replacement package of jobs.

Now, after two days of frantic lobbying by Manchester MPs and city council chiefs, Mr Burnham is poised to delay his announcement until Tuesday.

Supporters of the Manchester bid hope the delay will give the government time to come up with some concrete regeneration propositions for the supercasino site at Sportcity.

If they fail to do so, the council will immediately start preparations to launch a judicial review of the decision. Town hall chiefs are furious that the government intends to scrap the supercasino while pressing ahead with plans for 16 smaller casinos elsewhere.

Manchester was chosen as the best site for a supercasino by an independent panel, ahead of Blackpool and the Millennium Dome.

But the plan stalled after the House of Lords refused to give its support – and Gordon Brown made it clear when he took over as prime minister that he was sceptical.

He ordered local government secretary Hazel Blears to draw up a report on whether there were better ways of regenerating run-down areas.

The MEN revealed that Ms Blears‘ report, yet to be published, does not include a single specific proposal to create jobs in east Manchester.