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Staff in shock as Huddersfield’s famous George Hotel shuts down

HUDDERSFIELD’S historic George Hotel has been shut down.

George Hotel in Huddersfield

HUDDERSFIELD’S historic George Hotel has been shut down.

And the shock move yesterday means the future of the landmarkbuilding is again in doubt.

Guests were turfed out yesterday morning and staff told they were being made redundant as the troubled hotel shut its doors for the second time in nine months.

Workers were given the bad news at a meeting yesterday morning as guests – some who had come from as far away as Qatar – were asked to leave.

The 60-bed hotel – the birthplace of Rugby League and home to its famous museum – was locked down by professional security workers and a team of men in suits could be seen surveying the outside of the premises.

Inside, staff remained on site to help clear out the premises, but the front door was locked and guarded by a security guard who would not comment on who was in control of the premises.

The scenes at the Grade II listed hotel are a repeat of its dramatic closure last April.

At that time staff and guests were left out in the cold for several hours as bailiffs moved in and the business changed hands.

But later in the day a team from business troubleshooters Licensed Solutions came in and told staff their jobs were safe for the time being.

But nine months on it appears the landmark premises could be shut down forever.

Paul Whitfield, a director at Licensed Solutions, said the owners had decided “with regret” to close the hotel.

In a statement, he said: “The owners of the George Hotel have been marketing the hotel for a number of months.

“Unfortunately, a sale has not been achieved and the hotel is forecast to continue to make losses.”

Prices for rooms at the George had been slashed on booking websites from more than £100 to as low as £39.

But yesterday, many of the sites said the hotel was no longer available.

Disgruntled workers told The Examiner they had been summoned to a meeting and told they were being made redundant.

Michael Eastwood, 28, who has worked at the hotel for six years, said he was “gutted”.

He said: “We’ve been told the hotel’s gone bust and everyone’s lost their jobs.

“They can’t find anybody to buy it so everybody’s been made redundant and all the guests were evacuated.

“It’s a shock to the system, I’m going to have go sign on now.”

Mr Eastwood, who works in the kitchen, said the hotel had seemed to be operating better since its shock closure last April.

He said it had been a busy Christmas period with plenty of guests.

He said staff had now been told to gather their belongings, but had been asked to help clear the premises before they got their redundancy forms.

One angry employee said the closure was a bitter start to 2013.

The man, who did not want to be named, ironically said: “Happy ******* New Year!”

He went on: “We’ve got a hard working team here and I think it’s totally unfair to do it like this.

“This is our livelihoods, we’ve got bills to pay and families to feed.”

Another woman, who also did not want to be named, simply said she was “stunned”.

Another anonymous caller to The Examiner, whose relative works at the hotel, said the news had come totally out of the blue.

She said: “All the staff had been given their rotas for next week.

“There’s a total lack of information and consideration for the people that work there.

“They went through it all last April, all the worry.

“They went without wages for two months and then they said it was taken over and their jobs were safe.

“My relative spent two years looking for work before they got this job and now they’re out of work again.”

The Examiner understands staff have been paid for December.

It is thought the hotel is now under the control of Colliers International, a London-based estate agency.

Head of corporate restructuring, John Cookson, confirmed a member of staff was on site but said he was unable to comment any further.

February 2012: Long-term owners Brook Hotels says it is disposing of its three-star hotels in a bid to move upmarket and sells the St George’s Square hotel to Antler Hotels.

April 10, 2012: Bailiffs move in and the hotel is closed down as staff reveal they haven’t been paid for several months.

April 11, 2012: The hotel re-opens and “turnaround specialists”. Licensed Solutions Ltd vow to revitalise its flagging fortunes. A deal is done to re-employ existing staff and pay their unpaid wages.

January 2, 2013: Workers are made redundant as the 300-year-old hotel shuts for a second time.

THE shock news about the closure of Huddersfield’s George Hotel has stunned rugby league officials.

The sport’s Heritage Centre is housed in the basement of the hotel – home of the sport.

And officials were hoping for a bumper year ahead as 2013 sees the Rugby League World Cup come to Huddersfield and the UK.

The Heritage Centre, which includes a massive collection of memorabilia, was due to re-open to coincide with the start of the new SuperLeague season on February 1.

Ironically, a plaque to mark the historic links between the hotel and the sport was placed outside the George only in November.

Representatives of 21 clubs from Yorkshire and Lancashire met there on August 29, 1895, to form the Northern Rugby Union – forerunner to the Rugby League.

Keith Burhouse, who helps out at the Heritage Centre, said: “This is a complete shock. We had repeatedly asked staff at the hotel what was happening but no-one would say.

“Mike Stephenson, who is managing director of the centre, is away in Australia at the moment so I will have to give him the news.

“The Heritage Centre has been there since 2005 and we were hoping for a bumper year this year. In addition to the World Cup, we have linked up with the Giants in the Community scheme to get schools interested in the history of the sport.

“We get visitors from all over the world calling in and we still get people coming forward with new items for us to put on display.”

 

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