ONE of the companies chosen to deliver Bournemouth council’s controversial hotel scheme was involved in a planned Hilton development which was left half-built.

As revealed yesterday, Bournemouth council intends to borrow up to £70million for a hotel complex near the BIC.

It rejected all tenders from the private sector before hand-picking two partners to join it in the scheme – Mill Lane Estates of Manchester and Marick Real Estate of Woking.

Both firms have a track record of delivering projects in the hotel and leisure sectors, as well as other developments.

But Mill Lane Estates was also involved with a planned Hilton hotel at Leeds Arena, which was left unfinished after other companies involved became insolvent.

A Mill Lane director was also director of a firm whose collapse into administration put paid to the Leeds plans.

Cllr Don McQueen, chairman of Bournemouth council’s corporate services scrutiny panel, said concern had been raised about the two firms at a meeting, held in private, discussing the project.

“I would welcome any further investigation on this by the Echo,” he said.

“At overview and scrutiny we asked some serious questions of the qualifications of the bidders, and about their experience and credibility.”

Leeds City Council sold the site of the planned Hilton to Oxford GB Two in 2011 and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership lent it £4.8m.

The construction company, GB Building Solutions, went into administration in March 2015, along with parent company GB Group Holdings Ltd.

Mill Lane Estates said that October that it had been appointed development manager of the project after the collapse of GB Group.

Oxford GB Two, another subsidiary of the GB Group, continued in business, but went into administration in March 2016, causing the hotel project to come to a halt. The site has since been sold by administrators and is set to be redeveloped as student flats.

Brandon Riley, a director of Mill Lane Estates, was also a director of the collapsed Oxford GB Two.

Mr Riley and another Mill Lane Estates director, Glenn Mills, were also directors of GB Development Solutions Ltd, which entered administration in April 2015.

Mill Lane Estates has been involved in successful projects including the Hilton Leeds Executive Lounge and Highline Bar. Together with Marick Real Estate and the Topland Group, it delivered an Express By Holiday Inn at Manchester’s Trafford Park and a £35million Hampton by Hilton at London’s Dockside.

Mr Riley was approached for comment but said “ongoing discussions” with Bournemouth council were “strictly confidential at this stage”.

Poole and Christchurch 'were not consulted'

POOLE and Christchurch were not consulted over Bournemouth’s £70million hotel plan, even though the towns will share the debt.

A new council will cover the conurbation from April 2019.

Poole Liberal Democrat Cllr Phil Eades said of Bournemouth’s plan: “I have concerns about it and I find it very strange timing. In effect, they’re binding the new council, which doesn’t exist yet, with their property deals.”

He added: “One would hope they would have consulted with their colleagues in Christchurch and Poole. It comes on the back of a £50m plan to buy a shopping centre at Mallard Road. That’s £120m debt for new council in which they are not the majority.”

Poole leader Cllr Janet Walton said: “Bournemouth, like Poole and other councils in Dorset, remains a sovereign council until March 31 2019. Up until then, each council is entitled to pursue its own priorities.”

She added: “I would not expect Poole council to be consulted on this or any similar scheme. By the same token, Poole council has not consulted Bournemouth or any other council about its plans for regeneration of Poole town centre, which itself has long-term implications.”

Once a ‘shadow’ authority was set up ahead of the new council, it should be consulted on major decisions and “efforts should be made to seek wider support”.

Christchurch council leader Cllr David Flagg said: “It’s not something I was aware of as leader of Christchurch council and I haven’t been consulted.”