Updated: Friday, 5th June 2020 @ 4:07pm

Piccadilly Starflyer only attracts HALF expected visitors, as council accused of taking taxpayers 'for a ride'

Piccadilly Starflyer only attracts HALF expected visitors, as council accused of taking taxpayers 'for a ride'

Exclusive by Danielle Wainwright

Only half the number of Manchester thrill-seekers expected to brave the dizzy heights of the Piccadilly Flyer turned up, MM can reveal.

The fairground-style Starflyer ride, based at Piccadilly Gardens, was expected to draw up to 10,000 people every week between March 29 and May 1 – bringing in a predicted revenue of more than £200,000.

However, MM can reveal that only around 5,000 people per week rode the attraction, bringing in around half the predicted cash.

Manchester City Council brought in the Starflyer – owned by a private company to whom they paid a fee – in a bid to bring a welcome tourism boost to the city.

A Manchester City Council spokesman told MM that given that at full capacity the ride can accommodate more than 20,000 people per week, a top end target of up to 50% capacity was ‘not an unrealistic ambition’.

“As this is an outdoor, uncovered attraction it was always going to be subject to the weather, time of year and other external factors,” he said.

Eleanor Mc Grath, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, has expressed outrage that the taxpayer money has been spent on an attraction in a time where councils are making cutbacks.

"Local residents will be shocked to hear that their money has been spent on a fairground ride, especially at a time when budgets are so tight,” she said.

"Taxpayers have every right to know exactly how much of their cash has been wasted on this ridiculous gimmick.

“If the council is really serious about helping local businesses then civic leaders need to stop taking local taxpayers for a ride.”

Manchster city centre visitors and workers have also given mixed feelings about the Starflyer, with some angry that money is not being spent where it is needed most.

City centre shop assistant Jane Evans, 27, said: "I'm always walking past it on my lunch break or on the way home and it's only ever half full. I do like the idea of Piccadilly Gardens having fun things in it, but I suppose there could be better things to spend taxpayers' money on.

"If they were hoping it would attract people to the city centre, that's a silly idea. A little ride may be nice but it's not going to ever be a deciding factor of where you spend your weekend scrap the parking charges or make the met journeys cheaper! There's your solution."

John, an unemployed Rochdale resident, said: “Why are there still people homeless and struggling to feed themselves when Manchester can afford to splash out on a bloody tourist attraction?

“I would be interested to see what changes in the area that were promised actually happen if they could only get half of the visitors to come.”

Finance worker Damien Jeft, 29, shared similar sentiments.

“Most of the people from my office have ridden it and often they say people on the ride have to wait almost half an hour just for ride organisers to fill the seats,” he said.

“It was exciting for a week but the novelty soon wore off.

“It’s not a surprise it didn’t make as much as the council wanted it to.”

Picture courtesy of Agogo, with thanks.

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