When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Council set to keep grasp on hotels
A COUNCIL looks set to keep hold of the hotels it owns but will review leases to help operators.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has been looking at its property portfolio in light of its dire financial situation and a need to make savings.
In particular, a council committee was tasked to review the current policy in relation to seafront hotels.
It has concluded the freeholds should be kept in council control as they provide a good financial return and there was no reason to sell them. But the committee recommended that lease conditions are reviewed to make it easier for operators to obtain finance to do up their hotels. Current conditions make it impossible for hoteliers to get business loans.
Finance spokesman Peter Chapman didn’t agree with this at the management committee, saying the recommendation was too ‘inflexible’ and urged councillors to consider disposing of its hotels.
He said: “It’s a fluid situation. Holiday markets are constantly changing and I’m not certain that our current hotel portfolio will be able to compete in 10 to 15 years time.
“The public is demanding better accommodation and I’m not sure whether buildings can keep up with that change in demand.”
Coun Ian Roebuck said a policy review 18 months ago concluded that without the freehold, the council had no control over what happened to buildings and a change of use could see a property transformed into bedsits or houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).
He said the policy was to maintain high quality hotel accommodation and make it possible for operators to improve them.
Coun Ian Bruce said every property the council had sold had actually been put to better use and was better maintained.
He added that it made sense to keep the policy in place if the council wanted a good financial return – but said the door should be kept open if someone wanted to buy the freehold for a hotel.
The management committee agreed with the recommendation to keep the seafront hotels policy as it is. Members heard that the council’s asset management group is also reviewing the property portfolio and will be producing a report.