Oldham Council finally reveal they have wasted £418,670 of taxpayers money on the failed Hotel Future scheme

After multiple refusals of our freedom of information requests and after initially refusing our request once again Oldham Council have revealed that the Hotel Future scheme, a training academy and functional hotel that was never built, has cost Oldham Council £418,670.

Timeline: 13/07/2017.
“Dear Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council,

I would like to make a request for the following information under
the Freedom of Information Act (2000).

How much has Oldham Council spent on the Hotel Future project from initial intention of interest to join the scheme as a partner in 2011/2012 up to July 2017 when the project was confirmed as defunct and the council entered into a period of public consultation to develop an unconnected traditional hotel with a different name on the site originally ring-fenced for Hotel Future. In anticipation of your refusal to give the details citing “commercial sensitivity” and/or “by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.” Let me reiterate the Hotel Future scheme has failed and no longer exists and I am requesting a block sum total for all money spent or allocated by Oldham Council to design, analysis, ground surveys, economic surveys, impact surveys, architectural designs, partner procurement, business meetings, accommodation etcetera. Requesting a sum total with no breakdown of cost or listing of partners and contractors for a scheme that is not being implemented removes any and all claims of protected disclosure issues.”

Timeline: 10/08/2017
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Oldham Council has a duty to supply any information on request, unless there is an exemption. It is the Council’s policy only to apply the exemptions where there is a genuine risk of harm or prejudice. In such cases, we will still provide information if it is in the public interest to do so.
In this instance, we believe that it is not in the public interest to disclose the information to you. Information about the exemption is included here.
. The Council is in discussions with a number of hotel operators regarding the project and we therefore cannot disclose the information because we believe it would unfairly prejudice their commercial interests. We do not believe that the public interest in disclosure is proportionate to the damage that would be caused
. In addition we cannot disclose the information because we believe it would prejudice the Council’s ability to get good value for money when dealing with commercial companies.
If you disagree with the exemption applied to this information, you may appeal to:

Paul Entwistle
Borough Solicitor
Oldham Borough Council”

Timeline: 11/08/2017
“Dear Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Costs incurred by Oldham Council for the now defunct Hotel Future scheme up to 2017’.

There is absolutely no evidence that the Hotel Future scheme, a functional hotel which is also a training academy, is still operational five years after being announced. Oldham council’s town centre plans published in July show that the scheme has been replaced with just a traditional hotel and the public are being asked to participate in a consultation for that when the costs of multiple failed regeneration schemes have been purposely withheld to avoid public scrutiny. The Manchester Hoteliers Association who devised the Hotel Future scheme and where primary developers before Oldham Council applied to become partners have published no information about the scheme for four years and the official website has reverted to a holding page and the twitter account has been silent for over two years. Oldham Council stated in documents several years ago that the only root available would be to take over the entire scheme and self-develop. You are now refusing to publish the cost because Oldham Council is in discussion with hoteliers to operate the hotel if it ever gets developed. Discussing the scheme with operators has no relevance to how much money Oldham council has spent over the years as these potential operators have contributed nothing to the financing of the scheme over the last four to five years. It is blatantly obvious the council does not wish to ever let the Oldham public know about the huge amounts of money and thousands of employee hours that have been squandered on multiple Hotel Future delivery and planning variations all of which have failed. Tucked away on the Oldham Council website in the recent key decisions document is a scheme called Hotel Oldham which is completely devoid of any details so one can only presume that this replaces the defunct Hotel Future.”

Timeline: 13/09/2017
“On further consideration of your Freedom of Information Reference: 10872
“Hotel Futures – the sum total for all money spent or allocated by Oldham
Council from initial intention of interest to join the scheme as a partner
in 2011/2012 up to July 2017” – I can confirm the amount spent to date on
the Hotel Future project is £418,670.

Roger Frith
Head of Strategic Regeneration & Development
Economy, Skills & Neighbourhoods”