Manchester-based charity Church Action on Poverty has expressed delight at reports that the Government is shortly to confirm it is scrapping its Manchester super-casino plan.
The group said it would be “a victory for common sense which will be welcomed by many people within the city”.
According to reports from the BBC, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning to formalise his much discussed about-face on the UK land gambling policy later this month. The super-casino project awarded last year to the northern city by predecessor Tony Blair is set to be the biggest casualty.
Officials in Manchester stated that they knew nothing of the u-turn by the Government, which is still planning 16 smaller regional casinos. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport insists there has been no final decision made on the super-casino.
But Niall Cooper, national co-ordinator of Church Action on Poverty, said: "Many Mancunians today will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at the scrapping of the plans for the super-casino. Manchester City Council had massively over-hyped the economic benefits and level of public support for plan to locate the casino in East Manchester – one of the UK’s poorest neighbourhoods.
“Many families across the city are already struggling to make ends meet, and the super-casino would have tipped significant numbers over the edge into crippling and unsustainable debt. There must be better ways of bringing jobs and regeneration to Manchester than this.”
Faith groups across Manchester had previously expressed strong opposition to the casino plan. In March 2007, Church Action on Poverty and Faith Network for Manchester attacked the Casino Advisory Panel’s decision to locate the UK's first super-casino in Manchester as “a threat to worsen the city's already poor record on debt and child poverty.”
Rev Daniel Burton, chair of Faith Network, said at the time: “We are concerned that the people of Manchester are to be used in a huge social experiment to test the effect of a super-casino on a community. Locating the super-casino in East Manchester in particular will draw in local people already living in debt and compound their problems.”
Manchester officials have said they will consider a legal challenge if a government decision to axe the city's planned super-casino is confirmed.
The decision is to be announced in a statement to the Commons after the half-term recess.