Ho­tel deal noth­ing but a ‘Fawlty Tow­ers farce’


Coventry Telegraph - - NEWS - By FION­NULA HAINEY News Re­porter fion­nula.hainey@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

COVEN­TRY City Coun­cil will go ahead with con­tro­ver­sial plans to buy Coombe Abbey Ho­tel in a deal branded by the op­po­si­tion as a “Fawlty Tow­ers farce”.

The sale, thought to be in the re­gion of £11mil­lion, was dis­cussed dur­ing the pri­vate part of a full coun­cil meet­ing to­day un­der an agenda item called Pro­ject CAP.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Labour’s cab­i­net mem­ber for busi­ness, con­firmed that the coun­cil had voted to go ahead with the pur­chase of the ho­tel busi­ness.

Speak­ing to the Tele­graph this evening, he said: “Coven­try Coun­cil will now be the sole share­holder of the Coombe Abbey Ho­tel which means we will gen­er­ate 10% re­turn on the in­vest­ment.

“This is a se­ri­ous amount of money and it will be a re­ally good way of in­vest­ing in ser­vices going for­ward. We be­lieve it is good value for money for the tax payer.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is still at risk of los­ing fund­ing so this is a way that we can make our own rev­enue going for­ward - we are in­vest­ing in a profit mak­ing busi­ness.”

Ear­lier this week Cllr O’Boyle said the ex­act value of the deal could not be re­vealed ahead of com­ple­tion due to le­gal re­stric­tions on the coun­cil.

How­ever, pro­test­ers op­pos­ing coun­cil cuts out­side the Coun­cil House to­day claimed the amount was £11mil­lion.

To­day Cllr O’Boyle told the Tele­graph he could nei­ther con­firm or deny that fig­ure.

“Once the deal is se­cured the cost will be made pub­lic,” he added.

The lo­cal author­ity is al­ready the free­hold owner of the ho­tel, which means they own the bricks and mor­tar, but the coun­cil now own the lease too – es­sen­tially the ho­tel busi­ness. The ho­tel is cur­rently owned by No Or­di­nary Ho­tels Ltd and Coombe Abbey Park Ltd, both headed by busi­ness­man Gor­don Bear. What did the op­po­si­tion say? The Con­ser­va­tives have op­posed the deal and hit out at the coun­cil for their han­dling of the is­sue. Prior to the de­ci­sion, the leader of Coven­try Con­ser­va­tives, Cllr Gary Ri­d­ley, is­sued the fol­low­ing state­ment: “Tra­di­tion­ally when the Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion dis­cusses an item of pri­vate busi­ness there is a pub­lic re­port to ac­com­pany it with the con­fi­den­tial de­tail re­moved.

“It’s a great shame that on this oc­ca­sion this process wasn’t re­spected and ad­hered to.

“It places the pub­lic at a dis­ad­van­tage be­cause they’re not given any in­sight into the de­ci­sion and even now lim­its what I can say pub­licly.

“With those re­stric­tions in mind I will re­spect the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act and re­strict my com­ments to the in­for­ma­tion which was con­firmed in pub­lic by Cllr Jim O’ Boyle.

“In an in­ter­view with the me­dia the cab­i­net mem­ber ac­knowl­edges there is a level of risk to this deal.

“It raises ques­tions about the state of the busi­ness, re­me­dial work and whether a lo­cal author­ity should be in­volved in run­ning a ho­tel at all.

“As coun­cil­lors we have a sacred duty to pro­tect the city, our city, from risk and li­a­bil­ity.

“That’s why a de­ci­sion of this mag­ni­tude needs to be given care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Just like Fawlty Tow­ers this process has been a farce but I don’t see any­one laugh­ing. In fact, it’s taken many Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers by sur­prise, just as it has raised con­cern amongst the pub­lic.

“Our group was only briefed after the news was made pub­lic.

“This means that Con­ser­va­tive Group mem­bers will have had less than 24 hours to read a re­port be­fore be­ing asked to sup­port it.

“Un­der these cir­cum­stances it is im­pos­si­ble for us to be able to pro­vide any in­put or to even quan­tify and un­der­stand the level of risk in­volved.

“As such, we’d be fail­ing in our duty to the peo­ple of Coven­try were we to sim­ply rub­ber stamp it.

“I can there­fore con­firm that we do not sup­port this pro­posal in its cur­rent form.

“Se­cret deals made be­hind closed doors will erode pub­lic con­fi­dence in our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and I’d urge the Labour Group to bring a pub­lic re­port as soon as pos­si­ble.”

It raises ques­tions about the state of the busi­ness, and whether a lo­cal author­ity should be in­volved in run­ning a ho­tel at all. Cllr Gary Ri­d­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.