Labour to sell off ‘non-essential’ QEII Centre

The QEII Centre is among four central London buildings that could be sold off if Labour wins power.

Labour says the properties owned by government departments may be “non-essential” and could raise £100m to pay down the deficit.

The party is also examining other assets, policing and local government.

The Conservatives dismissed the idea as representing just “0.0001% of the deficit”.

Labour has valued the new-look QEII Centre opposite Westminster Abbey to be worth £25m, while the nearby Civil Service Club, could fetch £6.8m, the party believes. Inn the Park, a restaurant in St James’ and the Marlborough Club are the other buildings on Labour’s hit list.

The QEII Centre is the largest conference venue in central London and, as well as conferences, has hosted BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the Iraq Inquiry in recent years.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said it was “time to consider whether it is necessary” for the state to continue owning the four buildings under Labour’s scrutiny.

“Four such buildings in iconic locations in central London could attract interest from buyers around the world. A future Labour government will examine whether it would provide a better deal for taxpayers if the properties were sold off and the proceeds used to pay down Britain’s national debt.”

A Conservative spokesman was critical of the plan, pointing out: “Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have opposed every single step we’ve taken to live within our means – including selling off government buildings.”

Reacting to the news as reported on the BBC, one Twitter user, under the name ‘Very Sensible’, wrote:” The QE11 Centre might be worth more than £25m but, when faced with a deficit of billions, that is a mere drop in the ocean. Why sell off property in a prime location, probably at a knock down price to a foreign investor? Keep these buildings but maximise revenue by renting out for corporate events and conferences.”

A QEII Centre told CN: “The QEII Centre has recently commenced a self-funded £12m phased refurbishment programme, and has completed the first two phases which have provided great stimulus to the business and received significant client and events industry acclaim.

“The Centre generates a yearly surplus for the Exchequer, and is on course to exceed its revenue target for 2014/15. A review concluded in December 2012 that the freehold interest in the building should be retained and that the conference centre use should also be retained, as it has proved to be of considerable economic benefit”.
 
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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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