Leeds councillor’s “subterfuge” claim over £4.8m hotel loan black hole

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A senior opposition councillor has slammed what he claims was “subterfuge and misleading information” in relation to his concerns over a mothballed Leeds city centre hotel which has left a £4.8m black hole in the public purse.

As previously reported, the £32m Hilton Arena project has been languishing in development limbo for more than two years since the original contractor went into administration.

A property agent has now been appointed to sell the freehold interest in the unfinished 206-bedroom scheme.

The project was part-funded by a taxpayer-backed loan of £4.8m from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council’s opposition Conservative group, has been demanding answers about what will happen to the loan - and whether the risks of the project were properly weighed up by all concerned parties before the loan was made from public funding. And speaking this week, he claimed he had been forced to ask the same questions “over and over again”.

Speaking in the council chamber, Coun Carter said: “I tried to find out how that decision was taken, who did the due diligence. A lot of questions remain unanswered by the LEP, Combined Authority and the council.”

“£4.8m of public money has probably been lost.

“We now have a building standing there which everybody in this council sees everyday and will probably cost the public purse a great deal more than the £4.8m that currently appears to have been wasted.

“Worst of all [is] the amount of subterfuge and deliberately misleading information that a member of this council has been subjected to and had to ask over and over again to get.”