THE chief executive of clubbing empire Cream has revealed that its world-famous festival could be a permanent fixture in Halton.
James Barton says the borough site beat off stiff competition from a host of other possible venues across Merseyside for the Creamfields 2006 event to land the massive one-day music event.
And now he is predicting a huge economic boom in Widnes and Runcorn as hundreds of businesses and the tourist trade cash in on the 45,000 capacity crowd that will flock to Daresbury on Saturday, August 26.
He said: 'We have demonstrated in Liverpool that we do bring value to the surrounding areas because of the spending our punters bring, but also the perception and profile of the area.
'We looked at quite a few sites in Knowsley, Sefton and Liverpool. Liverpool really wanted the event to stay in the city, but all of those sites did not tick all the boxes - Halton did.
'The big picture is that from Halton's point of view it will be the catalyst for something really new and different and an event like this can kick-start regeneration and image.
'Transport, hotels, pubs and other businesses will benefit greatly. When the event came to Liverpool it went some way to improving the image of Liverpool and we want to do the same with Halton.
'We believe the future is in Halton and we stated we want to continue to be an annual event.'
Mr Barton is in negotiations with terrestrial television companies to screen the event after it was revealed that chart-topping acts including The Prodigy, Gnarls Barkley, The Zutons and Goldfrapp had been secured for the event.
He claims Halton has been 'starved' of first class music for more than 15 years and now he thinks it's time for the borough to establish itself as a major centre for music in the North West.
He added: 'Not a lot happens in this part of the world and apart from Spike Island in 1991 with the Stone Roses the place has been musically starved.
'The line-up is the best ever and we want to make a statement about the event and broaden the appeal.'
Mr Barton is aware of the 'opposition' to the one-off festival, but is confident his team can deliver a 'first class' event with minimum disruption.
He said: 'We are capable and experienced enough to fulfil our plan and are absolutely certain that the plan, application and site all work - our track record speaks for itself.
'Understandably, there is some scepticism and we are aware of that and accept that.
'There is a bit of the un-known but people need to give us a chance.'