Calls for inquiry as cost of union's hotel and conference centre hits £98MILLION 


Calls for inquiry as cost of ‘Red Len’ McCluskey’s luxury new Unite union hotel and conference centre spirals to £98MILLION

  • Birmingham hotel and conference complex cost has risen to almost £100m 
  • Original estimate of £35million, with some reports it was as low as £7million 
  • McCluskey has blamed cost increase on paying top rate wages to workers 
  • But  Labour MP and Unite member Neil Coyle said: ‘This whole project stinks’

One of the UK’s largest trade unions is facing demands for an independent inquiry today into a hotel project whose cost has spiralled more than tenfold to £98million. 

Unite leader Len McCluskey is facing questions over the handling of the hospitality and conference centre project in Birmingham.

Its original cost is thought to have been £35 million – although according to one report it was originally as low as £7 million. 

The 195-bedroom four-star Marriott hotel complex also contains union offices.

General Secretary Mr McCluskey, who is due to step down next year after 12 years in charge, has previously blamed the increase on the union’s decision to pay top wage rates to the workers who built it. 

But Labour MP and Unite member Neil Coyle said: ‘This whole project stinks.  Members’ subs have been taken for granted. 

‘As a member of Unite I want an external, independent audit of how costs went from £7million to £98million and where all the money has gone.’

Questions have been raised over the funding of a luxury hotel and conference centre in Birmingham for Unite the Union - the UK's largest trade union

The project – which includes a Marriott-branded hotel, a conference room, an education centre and regional offices for Unite – has now reportedly cost £98million

General Secretary Mr McCluskey, who is due to step down next year after 12 years in charge, has previously blamed the increase on the union's decision to pay top wage rates to the workers who built it.

General Secretary Mr McCluskey, who is due to step down next year after 12 years in charge, has previously blamed the increase on the union’s decision to pay top wage rates to the workers who built it.

But Labour MP and Unite member Neil Coyle said: 'This whole project stinks. Members' subs have been taken for granted.'

But Labour MP and Unite member Neil Coyle said: ‘This whole project stinks. Members’ subs have been taken for granted.’

One contract for the hotel is with the Flanagan Group of Liverpool, headed by businessmen Paul Flanagan.

Merseyside Police is investigating the firm amid an inquiry into the sale of council land – and Mr Flanagan himself was arrested in September.

Another contract for the project went to a company owned by David Anderson, the son of former Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson.

Both men were also arrested by Merseyside Police last year and released on bail. There is no suggestion that the Unite contract is linked to the police inquiry.

There is also no suggestion of any wrongdoing in the decision to award the contract to The Flanagan Group – or that Mr McCluskey had anything to do with the tendering process.

Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP and former Cabinet minister, told Sky News: ‘The obvious answer to the lack of transparency is to have an independent inquiry and I think that’s absolutely the right thing to do and I think that’s what the members would expect.’ 

A Unite spokeswoman told the broadcaster: ‘As with all construction projects, and especially one of this scale, costs will have risen over the duration of the project.

‘Unite’s refusal to use cheaper, under-paid, non-union labour added to the costs, as did our decision to add a floor to the hotel and up the classification from three to four star.’

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