A Morecambe and Wise sculpture originally earmarked for Morecambe will now be unveiled in Blackpool.
The 8ft bronze frieze of Eric and Ernie is now due to stand in the foyer of the Winter Gardens theatre in Blackpool.
A fundraising campaign to pay for the statue which began in Morecambe will now continue in Blackpool.
Plans to build the sculpture of the TV comedy duo on Morecambe seafront collapsed last year.
Organisers decided to move the campaign to Blackpool after a Lancaster City Council survey revealed a lack of enthusiasm from the public for the project.
In December 2015, lead fundraiser Jim Cadman said a public letter put out by Lancaster City Council in July casting doubt on the location for the sculpture had “damaged the fundraising efforts” in Morecambe.
But city council tourism chief Darren Clifford hit back, saying it wasn’t the council’s fault and that they still supported the project “in principle”.
See HERE for our story at the time.
The sculpture is being produced by Graham Ibbeson who also created our town’s Eric Morecambe Statue.
Mr Ibbeson said that reuniting Eric and Ernie in their “spiritual home” of Blackpool would be “the highlight of my career”.
The original plan for Morecambe was to house the sculpture in a ‘Sunshine Garden of Fame’ with plaques inscribed with the names of celebrities and local businesses.
It was hoped this would become a major tourist attraction for Morecambe.
The idea was first revealed in October 2014 shortly after the Eric Morecambe statue was vandalised.
See HERE for our story at the time.
A total of £13,523 was raised towards the original scheme from people and businesses in Morecambe from a series of fundraising activities.
Peter Cross, from Morecambe-based Cross Bay Brewery, said he’d raised nearly £9,000 towards the campaign from sales of a beer called the Sunshine Ale.
Mr Cross said he still backed the scheme because he has business in Blackpool.
“I am disappointed that it’s not being done in Morecambe,” he said.
“But we don’t just supply Morecambe, we supply all over the North West. Blackpool is a big part of our business.
“It won’t affect Cross Bay Brewery in any way.
“I will be meeting with Jim Cadman and Blackpool Council to see how we can support it.”
Mr Cross said sales of the Sunshine Ale dropped after Lancaster City Council put out its letter in July 2015.
This letter, printed in The Visitor at the time, confirmed that talks had been held about placing the sculpture on the promenade opposite the Winter Gardens.
But it also said: “At the same time, however, the council has made improvements in this area and it has recently been landscaped to provide an open aspect to the promenade.
“The council would need to give serious consideration to locating something there that might conflict with the works that have taken place so far and the wider plans that are being developed.
“There is, therefore, a long way to go before any final location on public land is agreed.”
The letter also asked for the public’s views on the Eric and Ernie project.
A Lancaster City Council spokesman later said there was very little response from the public survey with “just eight people sending their views, which perhaps shows the level of interest in the project, and the majority said they wanted to see the frieze located in the West End”.
Instead of the sculpture, an Eric and Ernie heritage trail is now being planned for Morecambe.
This trail will consist of a series of plaques in different locations around Morecambe.
*In May 2015, The Visitor raised £2,428 from an auction and raffle at our annual Sunshine Ball, which was collected by Jim Cadman on behalf of the Morecambe and Wise appeal.
The Visitor agreed to back the appeal on the understanding that the sculpture would be located in Morecambe.
As the sculpture will now not be coming to Morecambe, we have agreed with Mr Cadman that he will refund £1,000 to more than cover the £828 of raffle money collected at last year’s ball.
This £1,000 will be donated to CancerCare, the beneficiary of the 2016 Sunshine Ball.
We also asked Mr Cadman to speak to those people who successfully bid for items in our auction – therefore donating money to the appeal – to ensure they are satisfied.