Government rejects Tameside’s potential World’s Fair bid… but bosses say it’s not over yet
Thursday 1st December 2016 @ 11:22 by Tom Greggan
Ashton News

Tameside’s hopes of hosting the World’s Fair in 2025 have been dashed after the Government announced it would not be bidding for the mammoth event.

It was announced earlier this year that local council chiefs were launching efforts to host the Fair- which is grander in scale than any other global event- on empty land at Ashton Moss.

But Ministers have rejected the £1bn proposal as they say it would be too expensive and not value for money for taxpayers.

Councillor Kieran Quinn, Executive Leader of Tameside Council, expressed his frustration at the decision and questioned the Government’s commitment to the North. He said: “To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I think the Government’s decision not to support our Greater Manchester bid for Expo 2025, is both short-sighted and a missed opportunity. This decision raises serious questions about the Government’s stated commitment to international trade post-Brexit, the Northern Powerhouse and re-balancing the UK economy. Actions speak louder than words, and sadly this decision tells us all we need to know.

“The lasting legacy of new infrastructure and housing, to name just two, would make Expo the greatest engine of economic growth we could wish for – and an opportunity to promote Greater Manchester and the UK internationally in the post-Brexit era where new trade links will be essential. For the Government to walk away from this opportunity is staggering.”

The World’s Fair is a six-month public exhibition which has previously been held in cities such as Barcelona, Shanghai and New York. Held every five years, it dwarves sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. The last event in Milan has 20 million visitors.

This area of land at Ashton Moss was the site for a potential World's Fair bid- but the Government say it will be too costly.

This area of land at Ashton Moss was the site for a potential World’s Fair bid- but the Government say it will be too costly.

When Greater Manchester’s potential bid was announced, opinion was divided over the benefits it could bring. Speaking at the time, Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne said: “I am fully supporting Manchester’s bid to host World Expo 2025. If successful, it will be a huge regeneration boost for my constituency, which part of the proposed Ashton Moss site covers, with benefits felt across Tameside and the wider Greater Manchester area.

“Expo is also great chance to highlight the best of Britain to the world, and the best of the world to Britain, and the event is long overdue to come back to the UK.”

But Stalybridge Councillor Doreen Dickinson questioned the legacy that could be left behind. “We had a lot of debts from the Commonwealth Games but I have not seen a great deal of legacy in terms of housing or business,” she said.

“These grand ideas are great on paper, but who is going to pay for it? If it is the Greater Manchester taxpayer then I would be against it.”

Cllr Quinn, however, is determined to keep the bid alive and wants to meet with Chancellor Phillip Hammond to fight the decision. The deadline to host the World’s Fair in 2025 is in May 2017. So far, Paris is the only other city known to have put forward a bid.

Cllr Quinn added: “Despite the Government’s decision not to support any UK bid I’m not prepared to leave it there. I and colleagues from across Greater Manchester will challenge this and in the New Year would like to meet with the Chancellor to show him that this decision is a mistake. In Greater Manchester we have a proven track record of delivering major projects and can make a success of Expo 2025. That success will cement Manchester’s place as a city that competes across the globe and is world renowned for innovation and ideas.”