Blue Bell not closing

Open for Business'Blue Bell Hotel'Burton Agnes'PA1103-2'Lynn Custus, Sarah Brandon, Michael Evans
Open for Business'Blue Bell Hotel'Burton Agnes'PA1103-2'Lynn Custus, Sarah Brandon, Michael Evans

THE owner of the Blue Bell Hotel at Burton Agnes has confirmed that the venue will remain open but has criticised the council for not supporting local businesses.

As reported in last week’s Free Press, the business went into voluntary liquidation before Christmas, but this week hotel owner Bahram Shokrollahi said that it is continuing to trade under a different name after a restructure and there are no plans to close it down.

Mr Shokrollahi, who owns the building, leased the premises to Blue Bell Hotel Ltd, the company which ran the business for 18months, but recently the business transferred to a company called Burton Agnes Hotel Ltd and will continue to trade under the established name of the Blue Bell Hotel.

Mr Shokrollahi invested over £1million in transforming the derelict pub which had stood empty for several years before a grand opening in 2009.

However, he said that life had not been made easy by local authorities, including the council, whom he believed should be doing more to attract new businesses into the area.

He said: “I came here and invested a lot of money into the hotel, created jobs for local people and opened a venue to encourage more people into the area.

“But I’ve received no support from the local authority who I really think should be doing all they can to help local businesses.

“Times are hard, with rises in fuel and gas, yet the rates continue to rise.

“We’ve had council officials come down here to tell us that we have to move signs, or make them smaller - we’ve even had frightening and threatening letters from the council about our Valentines Day poster which is apparently too big.

“But they’ve never come down here and asked; ‘is there anything we can do to help you? ‘What can we do to make things easier for you?’

“In my opinion, the business side of local government should be run by experienced businessmen who understand how things work.”

Mr Shokrollahi, who has many years of business experience both in the UK and abroad, said that the East Riding has been one of the most difficult places to operate.

“The police force in the Bridlington area have been brilliant, probably the best we have had, but I have not had a great deal of joy from anybody else,” he said.

“We had problems with flooding on the road, we’ve twice had to close down part of the building because of the damage but all anybody would say was, ‘claim it on your insurance’.

“But they should have sorted the drains out to stop it from happening.”

Mr Shokrollahi believes that there is much more that East Riding of Yorkshire Council could do to encourage more businesses into the area.

His suggestions include lowering rates, offering discounts for new businesses and developing more staff training schemes.

Despite the challenges, Mr Shokrollahi is determined to continue making a success of the Blue Bell Hotel and reassured all staff and customers that the venue has a bright future.

“We were fully booked over Christmas and people have booked the same table for next year, which shows us that we are doing things right,” he said.

“This is a beautiful venue and I am very proud of what we have achieved here and very proud of all my staff.

“We are not closing down and I would like to welcome all customers old and new to come and see us.”

All planned events at the Blue Bell Hotel will continue, including a Burns Night supper on Tuesday night next week and regular quizzes and Wii nights on Thursday evenings.