MP told he has ‘no more clout’ than Fenland’s councillors in battle to get Phoenix Hotel restored

STEVE Barclay MP has effectively been told to stay out of a dispute between a Chinese-owned bank and Fenland District Council.

The suggestion that the former bank executive turned MP might be called into help came from Wisbech councillor Simon King.

The councillor has been questioning officials for more than a year to get the bank – which owns the deeds to the fire-gutted Phoenix Hotel - and the council in talks to get the building restored.

Cllr King suggested that the council “have a word with our MP” to encourage talks with the Chinese and the Chinese-owned East Asian bank which owns the Phoenix.

But Councillor Jan French, Cabinet member responsible for planning and enforcement, said: “To be fair our MP has no more clout than we have.” She said the council had no intention or desire to bring him into the issue.

Cllr King pressed for more to be done to bring back to life a number of derelict sites in Wisbech including the Phoenix, formerly a Chinese restaurant. He said the council had previously been unable to contact the owner.

However, Cllr French said a full update on all the town’s derelict properties would go to Cabinet on April 19.

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So far as the Phoenix was concerned, the council had been in touch with the mortgagees, the East Asian Bank, and it is aware of the costs incurred by the council following the fire.

Cllr French said: “We still need to encourage the bank to meet with the council. They have not agreed a meeting yet.”

She said the bank had been asked on more than one occasion about recovering the cash owed to the council for emergency work carried out and about bringing the hotel back into use.

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