Buxton bid is backed by baroness

Spa fan and Government Minister Baroness Warsi is backing Buxton’s bid to get the final piece of funding for The Crescent’s new life as a top hotel.

She heard on Thursday how the £32 million project to restore listed building and add ultra-modern facilities was vital to the town’s future as tourist resort.

“At a time when every town has to find its unique selling point, Buxton already has one,” said the cabinet minister and co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, who pointed to the world-wide growth in the popularity of spas and their associated relaxation programmes and therapies.

“The spa experience is something which Buxton can sell because historically it’s what it’s been associated with.

“If this building is restored – and I’m confident it will be– it will re-invigorate what is so special about Buxton.”

And the politician who lists spas as one of her vices added: “I’ll certainly be visiting!”

Baroness Warsi met High Peak Conservatives Tony Ashton and Tony Kemp to discuss possible measures to fill any funding gap after £5 million earmarked for the project from the East Midlands Development Agency was lost when the regional development agencies were axed.

They told Baroness Warsi how these critical schemes helped boost the local Peak District economy far beyond the confines of Buxton itself, and just how vital the Crescent development will be as the cornerstone of plans to safeguard the sub-regional tourism economy.

All parties have now signed the Crescent grant funding agreement, which finally confirms availability of the £12.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund allocation and paves the way for other possible means of closing the apparent funding gap.

But last month the Crescent project failed to secure £5 million in the first round of bids. A new bid is due to be made.

Baroness Warsi added: “It’s such an important part of what Buxton is known for. A strong case is being made by (High Peak MP ) Andrew Bingham for the next round of bids and I sincerely hope Buxton is successful.

Mr Bingham said: “I have spoken to ministerial colleagues in both the Culture Media and Sport and also Business Innovation and Skills departments to enlist support.

“They have been very receptive and I hope that with further continual pressure we will make an irrefutable case.

He has also tabled a Parliamentary Question asking for the criteria set for the assessment of projects in round two of bidding.