M&D (Leisure) Ltd is planning a major expansion of its £40 million facility in Strathclyde Park.
M&D’s applied to North Lanarkshire Council’s Policy and Resources (Regeneration and Infrastructure Sub-Committee) last week to increase the amount of land it leases.
M&D’s attracts 750,000 visitors a year, it employs 3-400 staff and expansion could create another 80-90 jobs.
A spokesperson said: “The extra land would predominantly be used to incorporate more quiet garden areas and additional leisure facilities within the hotel which would have a significantly positive impact on the local area in terms of job creation and additional attractions for visitors to the area.”
At present the firm leases around 20 acres. Council officials failed to tell councillors how much additional land was asked for, but it is at least double that.
M&D’s currently pays £205,000 a year in rent, which is calculated against its turnover, but council officials also failed to explain to councillors how much extra rent could be expected.
Acting director of regeneration and environmental services Kenneth Wilson revealed to councillors no deal would be agreed until debts were settled, but Bellshill councillor Harry Curran received no answer when he asked: “They owe us money?”.
Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig councillor Gary O’Rorke pushed officials on a potential rent increase, and at this point committee convener Allan Graham told the Times & Speaker to leave.
Not that it meant Councillor O’Rorke actually got an answer. He said later: “This is public land that has been entrusted to the council to run, we shouldn’t just be giving it to a private firm to use with no clear recompense.
“Although the papers didn’t provide the exact size, it’s clear this is a huge expansion and I’ve no idea why we’re basing rent on turnover.
“I’ve never heard of us doing this before, we should just set a price and it is then up to M&D’s if they wish to pay it.”
Councillor Graham defended making the matter private.
He said: “Committee members asked for more detail than the reports contained and the discussion strayed into areas of commercial confidence.
“Unfortunately, I had to act very quickly and exclude press and public from the meeting.
“However, I aim to call a special meeting to deal with the issues raised and it is my intention this will be held in public.”