PLEASURE Beach directors were meeting today (April 23) to thrash out whether to bid for Blackpool's famous tower, piers and Winter Gardens.

First Leisure has finally admitted its Blackpool-based resorts division is for sale, despite months of strenuous denials.

Three weeks ago the Citizen revealed an unnamed venture capital business had offered £120m for the division - then dismissed as nothing more than rumour by the company.

Now chief executive Michael Grade has told the Stock Exchange his board is considering just such unsolicited offers.

The Pleasure Beach, run by the multi-millionaire Thompson family, could definitely be in the running - at least for part of the resorts division's empire.

This includes not only Blackpool tower, three piers and Winter Gardens complex, but the Clifton and Savoy hotels, Eastbourne Pier and Trecco Bay Caravan Park in South Wales.

Pleasure Beach head of public relations Viv Ashby said: "It's too good a business opportunity to let go by, we have to consider what could be an extension of the Pleasure Beach's own entertainment activities in the resort.

"There are certain parallels for instance between what the tower does and what we do here at the Pleasure Beach - whether that interest would extend to the Winter Gardens I don't know."

First Leisure took a drubbing last month when the Labour Party cited the Winter Gardens' inadequacies and expense as the main reason it was pulling its annual conference out of the resort in the year 2000.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.