Anger over £25k revamp fee for centre

Joanna Trafford outside Enterprise Centre on Lytham Road
Joanna Trafford outside Enterprise Centre on Lytham Road

Town hall bosses have splashed out £25,000 on a major refurbishment in a bid to boost occupancy levels at a business centre which they controversially evicted one of their tenants from.

The cash has paid for items including new furniture, internal decoration and replacement vinyl flooring at the Enterprise Centre on Lytham Road, South Shore.

Earlier this year the council evicted solicitor Joanna Trafford, whose clients included people suing the authority over the state of the roads, from the centre.

She successfully challenged the decision which she said cost the council £50,000 in legal fees, but later moved her business out of the building of her own accord.

Today Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said he was “astounded” at the sum spent on the upgrade.

He said: “I was shocked when a solicitor occupying two of the units in the centre was evicted.

“I was later astounded to discover that this re-fresh which consisted of some new furniture and flooring in the reception area, a couple of new prints, and some painting and decorating, had cost the tax payers of this town a staggering £25,000.

“This is just wasteful and total nonsense. New wallpaper and sofas are not going to attract new tenants, and having seen the refurbishment I really couldn’t tell the difference.”

He added: “I cannot accept that enough has been done to get this building occupied since 2007 when the centre was opened.”

At the moment only 14 of the 30 units within the centre are occupied.

In a written response to Coun Williams, Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for urban regeneration, said he was also disappointed with the occupancy levels and said it was hoped to let another four units shortly.

He added: “We have seen three tenants leave within the last few months, relinquishing five units, so we have been working hard to rebuild occupancy levels again.”

He added the refurbishment was designed to ensure the centre “has a wide appeal to the business community.”

He said: “We recognise that improving the look and feel of the Enterprise Centre will not in itself be sufficient to attract small businesses, so we are exploring the possibility of some shared furnished office space, with appropriate facilities and incentives to grow into single unit occupancy.”