The financially-illiterate mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, has decided to spend £10 Million of taxpayer money to help an international, multi-million-pound hotelier which has over five-hundred hotels throughout the United Kingdom to open a second hotel in the Leicester city centre.
The hotel is pinned to open above the Haymarket shopping centre which we expect to be a low-quality hotel given the state of the Haymarket in general, even with the millions of pounds of taxpayer funds poured into the deal with the Haymarket Consortium by the same mayor just months ago.
This comes after Sir Peter Soulsby sold a prime, central piece of land worth upwards of £9million to international property developers for an eye-watering, low value of just £24’000 and after Leicester City Council announced plans to earmark £400’000 to buy back social housing sold under the right to buy, contrary to government plans of building new homes, instead of buying back old homes already sold.
The move to splurge £10million of our money on the Travelodge deal has been defended by the Leicester Mayor who clashed with councillors of the same Labour party over the support he has offered to the hotel chain.
The project intends to create just 67 rooms in the empty office space above the Haymarket shopping centre, overlooking Humberstone Gate and Lewis’s Tower.
To top off the £10million donation from Peter Soulsby on behalf of Leicester taxpayers, we would be leasing Haymarket House, the site Travelodge intends to occupy, for 125 years. Travelodge will never be expected to hand us a single penny of the donation back, regardless of the amount of profit generated from the disastrous deal, with the exception of business rates payable to the council. It does, however, beg the question of, whilst we have thousands of Leicester born and bred business owners, why does Peter Soulsby want to butter up the multinational organisations? One has to consider whether there is an element of corruption with the deals currently being handled by the Leicester Mayor.
It is ridiculous that Leicester business owners, especially those operating local businesses and small hotels in and around the city, have to suffer from the poor financial decisions of our mayor. Recently, Soulsby has cost the tax-payer millions in dodgy deals with international developers and theatre groups all whilst ignoring the smaller, independently owned, Leicester born and bred businesses.
we wonder if any of these large sums of money handed over by our mayor are being passed back to him under the table. there has so far been little adequate justification behind the nonsensical deals already greenlighted by Soulsby.
Harry Albert Lettings & Estates isn’t the only one questioning whether Peter Soulsby is as honest a politician as he makes out; former Leicester City Council leader, Ross Willmott, revealed Travelodge made a profit of £110million in 2017, begging the question as to what exactly they will do with the £10million and what justification there is to hand this sum over, especially when it is not clear how the ‘investment’ would benefit Leicester as a whole or individual Leicester residents. Wilmott says;
Why on earth is the city council giving money to them? It is a strange thing to use our scarce resources to fund a hotel. They (Travelodge) are not exactly strapped for cash. The deal doesn’t seem to wash its face and I don’t see how it is good value for money.
Councillor Willmott said the £10 million could pay for more than 250 new council houses, which would contribute to the overall goal set by the government to build 500’000 new homes per year by the year 2020, instead, Soulsby appears dedicated to ignoring the collective goals of our government to chase his own financial fantasies, wasting money or giving it away for little return on investment, if any at all, whilst earmarking a nominal amount of funds to buy back homes sold under the right to buy.
Another councillor, Sue Waddington, said the £7 million specifically for the Travelodge element of the agreement could be used to fund children’s centres or youth services or to meet the ‘dire need’ for housing.
A poll surveying Leicester news readers revealed 80% of Leicester residents are against the move, showing a clear disregard for democracy on Sir Peter Soulsby’s part.
Peter Soulsby claims councillors Willmott and Waddington were both very experienced local politicians but he accused them of not engaging in Labour party processes and lacking courtesy and good sense.
However, Liberal Democrat councillor, Nigel Porter, joined the debate to ask whether the Leicester Mayor thought he could correct market failures and added that the deal was a poor one for council taxpayers but Sir Peter Soulsby responded with;
The nature of the call-in and the spurious reasons given for it are ones that give false credibility to the rant we have just from Councillor Porter. I would say to political colleagues that the sort of reason given for this give comfort to our political opponents and serve no purpose in getting good quality decisions and scrutiny of important issues. There are ways of doing that. This is certainly not one of them.
Revealing to Leicester Property Insight the determination of Peter Soulsby to deflect criticism of and being held accountable for the decision when scrutinised in the emergency meeting called by Peter Soulsby’s own Labour colleagues due to their concerns of potential corruption or otherwise poor management of the city’s finances.
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