Are we being sold down the Rother?

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: Dr Barry Snape, Mayo Lane, Bexhill

I read, with interest, that Rother District Council is very keen to enter into an alliance with the Travelodge chain of budget hotels, who are reported as having been somewhat less enthusiastic (Hotel chain set to approach council, Observer, Friday November 3 2017, page 9).

Unless I have misunderstood, it appears that the deal now on offer is that RDC will gift a parcel of publicly-owned land to Travelodge and will pay for the construction of a hotel on their behalf from public funds.

It seems that the primary return to the Rother community from this largesse will be another architectural monstrosity in our midst, coupled with an invasion of raucous hen parties, together with a few menial service sector jobs, presumably rewarded at the National Minimum Wage.

Am I alone in thinking that we may be being sold down the Rother, here?

If Travelodge Hotels Ltd wants to build a budget hotel in the Rother District, why on earth can it not buy a parcel of land in the open market and pay for its development from the £110 million operating profits it declared last year?

Equally, if the oligarchs who operate the levers of financial power at RDC want a slice of the apparently lucrative budget hotel market, why can they not build a hotel and run it as a going concern in trust for the taxpayer, rather than selling it at a knock-down price or leasing it out on a peppercorn rent?

Better still, if Rother has stewardship of such a superabundance of publicly-owned real property and funds, why can we not build affordable social housing for the young families of Bexhill who are currently being driven out of their own home town as a consequence of the actions of financial speculators, property developers and buy-to- let landlords? This would indeed represent regeneration, rather than the degeneration which our District Council seems to be determined to inflict upon us.

We all know, from bitter experience, that major development projects which are entrusted to our District and County Council tend to meet with inordinate setbacks and delays and, ultimately, to dispossess the public purse of many times the projected financial estimates.

Therefore, if this extraordinary proposal is permitted to go ahead, I contend that all associated contracts should be subjected to thorough due diligence, and be audited, approved and monitored by an independent body. I would venture to suggest that the East Sussex Action Fraud Hub is best placed to provide this service, at minimal cost to the local taxpayer.