THERE have been calls for an independent inquiry after work came to a dramatic halt on a controversial, taxpayer-funded hotel.
Workmen downed tools three months ago after contractors Denizen went bust amid fears the firm would lose £2m by completing a luxury Hilton hotel at the Ageas Bowl, home of Hampshire cricket.
The hotel is being funded by The Co-operative Bank but will be bought for £27m by Eastleigh Borough Council on completion.
But only 75 per cent of the structure has been built, a new contractor has yet to be announced and no date has been set for work to recommence amid fears the cost of the project is sprialling behind the scenes.
Now opposition councillors have called for an independent inquiry claiming the “public are entitled to know” about the finer details of the saga.
As exclusively revealed by the Daily Echo, Hampshire firms are owed more than £750,000 following the collapse of contractors Denizen.
The Liberal Democrat-controlled council has said taxpayers' money is secured and that not a penny more will be spent on the project than has already been agreed.
But Tory leader Godfrey Olson said a thorough examination of the situation should be undertaken – and then made public.
“It is a very worrying issue,” he said.
“I am distressed to see local firms are going to lose a lot of money because of the collapse of Denizen.
“There are some questions that I am sure could be answered and a lot more that ought to be answered.
“People are entitled to have the facts produced clearly.
“I just wonder whether, in view of all the things being said, it is time to call for a full and detailed independent inquiry into what the position is.”
Behind the scenes, it is hoped that a new contractor is close to agreeing to take on the hotel build.
As reported, Denizen collapsed owing millions to businesses across the country.
One firm in Hampshire has lost more than £400,000 while another company that lost more than £100,000 said it only became involved in building work because it was underpinned by council cash.
Documents leaked to the Daily Echo revealed how Denizen went bust after bosses revealed they would lose more than £2m by completing the upmarket four-star hotel.
Council leader Keith House said of his opposite number’s inquiry call: “Wasting time and taxpayers’ money would be no help.
“The council is working to see the hotel completed and jobs and investment brought to our area. Cllr Olson needs to have patience."
The Co-operative Bank admits it has been “impacted” by the failure of Denizen and says it is working with “stakeholders who are in a position to help find a solution”.