Cabinet minister tried to influence hotel plan decision

Sajid Javid MP gave his backing to Betel's plans in Motherwell
Sajid Javid MP gave his backing to Betel's plans in Motherwell

Cabinet minister Sajid Javid has intervened in a row over plans to develop a derelict Motherwell hotel.

Birmingham-based charity Betel wants to develop the Old Mill Hotel where people who have suffered alcohol and drug problems will work and live.

North Lanarkshire councillors rejected the proposal in June, but Betel has now appealed the decision to the Scottish Government.

Bromsgrove MP Mr Javid, who is also Minister for Communities and Local Government, wrote a letter backing the scheme earlier this year.

He wrote: “Betel UK has been a valuable contributor to the Alvechurch community in my constituency for over two decades. The recovery centre has always respected and worked hard to build links with local businesses and people alike.

“As a recovery centre they provide their residents with a safe and structured environment in which they can develop new skills and thrive under a Christian ethos.

“Betel UK undertake fantastic work in helping to improve the lives of their residents. I therefore conclude that they would be a tremendous asset to Motherwell.”

Betel says it helps turn lives around by offering training in skills such as landscape gardening and furniture restoration and provides a drugs and alcohol-free environment.

Local resident Elaine Morris, who led a campaign against the proposal, said: “The local community do not want Betel UK in our area.

“The main reason for this is the location of the property as it is situated right in the middle of a housing scheme.

“We do not want a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre right in the middle of our close knit community.

“No matter how much Betel deny or try to hide the fact, extensive research proves they are indeed a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.”