Council grants AECC loan deadline extension

Aberdeen
City Council has approved a deadline extension to 2017 for the Aberdeen Exhibition and
Conference Centre (AECC) to repay a
£7.5m loan and lent its support to the proposal to develop a new
hotel at the centre.

AECC’s
MD Brian Horsburgh, welcomed the council ruling as “positive news” for the
centre, following some alarming coverage about the scale of AECC debt in the
local media recently.

“We
obviously welcome the Council’s decision and strongly believe this will enable
AECC to operate on a more sound financial footing in the longer term,” he
says.

“Having
a new four star hotel on-site will be an important part of AECC’s infrastructure
going forward. It will obviously create local jobs – both during the
construction phase and once the hotel is operational – and it will also enable
AECC to compete for more major international conference and event business in
the future.

“Today’s
decision also gives us a realistic chance of having the hotel up and running by
next September when Aberdeen will play host to both Offshore Europe
2011 and golf’s Walker Cup competition – events which are expected to attract
more than 50,000 visitors to the area, meaning accommodation in the city will be
at a premium.”

Conference-news had reported earlier this week that opposition
councillors had warned of the need to resolve the AECC debt
problem.

Council leader John Stewart says
it is important that the council now recognises “the huge role that the AECC
plays in the local economy and this decision will ensure that it will continue
to grow and play an ever-increasing role in the future of the city”. However,
opposition Labour councillors backed the decision to restructure the centre’s
debt, but criticised moves to underwrite the construction of a
hotel.

“The people of Aberdeen will be horrified
we are now not only a local authority, but a hotelier as well,” says group
spokesman Willie Young.

Horsburgh also says he is pleased that the Council agreed to again
approach the Scottish Government with a view to it reclassifying AECC as the
country’s National Energy Exhibition and Conference
Centre.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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