Sudden closure of Hull's Pearson Park Hotel stuns staff
STAFF have been left stunned by the sudden closure of a well-known west Hull hotel.
Owner Steve Bullock was devastated after his bank decided to put Pearson Park Hotel into administration.
Mr Bullock, who lost his partner Jeana Stace to breast cancer last year, has spoken of his anguish after breaking the news to his 16 employees.
They include the manager and assistant manager who live in the hotel, which means they have lost their home as well as their jobs.
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Mr Bullock became a director of the hotel in 1997 and then took over ownership in 2004.
He said: “I am still in a state of shock after the administrators turned up yesterday.
“We still had half the hotel full and there was a funeral reception.
“They said they would give me 72 hours before they board up the hotel.
“We had to start ringing people who had booked functions with us.
“One woman came in this week to pay for her daughter’s wedding.
“I had to explain that, due to the actions of the bank, we wouldn’t be able to honour the booking. Luckily, she managed to find an alternative.”
He said calling his staff to tell them they had lost their jobs was “heartbreaking”.
He said: “One of our workers, Jackie Bennett, has been here since 1977 while both the manager and assistant manager will also lose their homes.
“After losing my partner last year, this is one of the most difficult times I have ever had to face.”
Mr Bullock is angry with the way he has been treated by the Co-operative Bank.
He said: “The bank suggested some time ago I should put the hotel up for sale.
“There has been expressions of interest but no firm offers.
“Trading has been difficult but the main problem has been an ongoing issue with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
“A couple of years ago, the Post Office bank lost some money to pay HMRC and the problems have spiraled from there.
“I was advised by my bank to speak to Duff and Phelps, who are now the administrators.
“They suggested I should sell my home but the bank refused to sanction that as it would weaken the security of my loans.
“A little while ago, they froze my bank accounts and refused to pay my staff.
“I had to give them their salaries in cash from the hotel’s takings.”
Mr Bullock feels his personal guarantees more than matches the loans he has taken out.
He said: “I owe the bank £450,000 but my personal guarantees amount to £1 million in security.
“I had the hotel valued last year. As a going concern it was worth £850,000 and the building itself £600,000.
“I feel the bank has put 17 people on the dole.”
Mrs Bennett admits she is finding it difficult to come to terms with the news after 34 years working at the hotel.
She said: “I am absolutely devastated. This was my life.
“I started in 1977 as a breakfast waitress.
“Being here has been like one big family. We are all like brothers and sisters.
“We were only told about the closure on Monday. It’s terrible.”
Mrs Bennett admits she will also miss many of the customers she has gotten to know well over the years.
She said: “The hotel is a little family place, not a big commercial chain.
“I am going to miss everything about this place.
“We have had lots of luncheon clubs here over the years such as Probus, Inner Wheel and the rotary clubs.
“They are regulars who I have become friends with.
“I don’t know what I will do with myself. It will be strange working somewhere else after all this time.”
The Co-operative Bank insists it had no choice but to call in the administrators.
A spokesman said: “Following a petition from HMRC to place a winding up order on Pearson Park Hotel Ltd and a request from a company director, an application was made by The Co-operative Bank to place the company into administration.
“The application was granted and administrators from Duff and Phelps were appointed to act on behalf of all creditors.”