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As Crowne Plaza Hotel rescued with second loan, Opposition calls for transparency in decision making

August 13, 2020 10:41 AM

Mayormaking (Robin Ashby)The Liberal Democrats Opposition in Newcastle has renewed calls for transparency about the Council's COVID-19 Rescue Loan Fund, as news emerged that the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Stephenson Quarter has received cash alongside arts, culture and leisure organisations in the City.

Coming off the back of a nearly £15m loan in February this year, the Opposition has expressed concern that a lack of public information about the new deal casts doubt that the new loan provides value for money to taxpayers. Previously, Opposition Councillors had called for clear and effective safeguards to ensure that the Council's money is being used appropriately, and a transparent audit trail of how resources are being allocated and spent. These safeguards appear even more crucial now than ever.

Cllr Robin Ashby, Opposition Business Spokesperson, said: "The Council will no doubt be bound be commercial confidentiality in the loan agreements it strikes with organisations receiving money from the Rescue Loan Fund. However, the Labour Administration must recognise that taxpayers will have legitimate concerns about whether the hotel has a robust business plan to see it through the current crisis. Let's not forget that directors had significant doubt it could continue as a going concern in December 2019, before the pandemic hit.

"We urgently need information, in the public domain, that provides assurance that the risks of this and other deals made as part of the Rescue Loan Fund have been properly assessed. Taxpayers should not be left carrying the can if the hotel cannot continue to trade in a post-COVID-19 world."