Council boss: ‘We don’t promote top tourist spots particularly well’

Wigan Warriors' John Bateman battles with the St Helens defence ''First Utility Super League match at The Langtree Park
Wigan Warriors' John Bateman battles with the St Helens defence ''First Utility Super League match at The Langtree Park

St Helens’ key tourist attractions - including Haydock Races and Saints’ Langtree Park - are not promoted “particularly well”, the council’s new chief executive has warned.

Mike Palin, who joined the local authority earlier this year, said the town was a “super-connected” place and had plenty to offer the region as a whole.

St Helens chief executive Mike Palin

St Helens chief executive Mike Palin

But he said there were a number of “visitor assets”, including Haydock Races and Langtree Park which “we don’t promote particularly well”.

“We have all these opportunities for economic development and they’re there to be promoted,” said Mr Palin, who at 35 is believed to be the youngest chief executive in the UK.

“It’s a big challenge and as a council we have to save £23m over the next two years, rising to £40m by 2020, and economic development is a discretionary service.

“So the challenge is how we effectively and efficiently resource our economic development within the borough.

People still want to shop here and we have visitors assets such as Haydock Park Race Course, Langtree Park and the World of Glass that we don’t promote particularly well

Council chief executive

“We also need to start promoting ourselves efficiently.

“We are in an ideal location with a market for 35 million people within four and a half hours.

“People still want to shop here and we have visitors assets such as Haydock Park Race Course, Langtree Park and the World of Glass that we don’t promote particularly well.”

Mr Palin told St Helens Chamber’s Comment magazine St Helens faced a massive challenge in overcoming the legacy of de-industrialisation and intergenerational unemployment.

And he also cited a shortage of new enterprises as among the most pressing matters facing the borough’s business and local authority leaders.

Efforts to boost visitor numbers to the town centre in the face of fierce competition from out of town shopping complexes and internet shopping remain near the top of Mr Palin’s in-tray, he said.

“We are currently underway with a piece of work to masterplan what the town centre might look like in future years,” he added. “We are very clear that we can’t have a lot of little initiatives going on that conflict against one another.

“The Town Centre Commission has already given us some evidence and a number of local stakeholders have expressed their view through that process, but we want to expand that conversation to talk to more people about what they think the future of the town centre should be.

“We are also talking with all the major landowners in and around the town centre to understand what their ambitions are, and how likely they are to invest in St Helens town centre,

“These conversations have all been really positive, they still as a place to invest.

“Of course, we have to make sure that we encourage the right investment and do it in a long-term, strategic and planned way.”