SUNDERLAND City Council has spent about £1.6million to secure a prime seafront hotel site.
The authority has bought The Pullman Lodge, in Whitburn Road, Seaburn.
It sits alongside the Seaburn Centre and empty funfair sites, which are already council owned.
The Echo understands that the plan is to redevelop that area of the seafront.
About 20 people who worked at The Pullman Lodge have lost their jobs as the building sits empty, as do the two railway carriages outside – previously put up for auction on the internet.
The location is now being advertised to let by the council.
It had been taken over by financial specialist PricewaterhouseCoopers, after Wearside-based owner Wylam Leisure fell into administration more than a year ago.
The Wylam group retained the now-closed Glass Spider, although it still operates Ttonic and Cheers in High Street East.
Ex-boss Tony Griffiths today criticised the council for buying The Pullman Lodge, and admitted the company tried to get it back.
“It’s a total waste of public money,” he said.
“We did try and buy it back but the council made such a crazy offer that nobody could get anywhere near it.
“Our bid was £700,000 and the council have paid £1.6million for it.
“It’s an absolute disgrace. But nothing will happen to them, they will still get voted in.”
Mr Griffiths added that he feels the council should not be buying venues such as the Pullman Lodge, but instead allow private businesses to compete for them.
“They have paid nearly three times what the highest bid was,” he said.
“They have destroyed the city centre.
“They came up with a masterplan for Holmeside and the Vaux site, but they need to leave things to the private sector.”
A spokesman for the council said: “The council recognises that Roker and Seaburn have a key role in providing cultural tourism attractions for the city and following extensive public consultation the Seaburn Masterplan was agreed in July 2011.
“The masterplan will guide the comprehensive development of the seafront and it identifies the Pullman Lodge site as being a key location if long term development ambitions are to be achieved.
“The company which owned the premises went into administration in 2011 and the premises were put up for sale by the administrators.
“This enabled the council to acquire the property so as to ensure that the comprehensive redevelopment of the area, including the Pullman, can be delivered.
“Together with adjacent ownership, this purchase greatly enhances the ability to deliver the regeneration aspirations of the Seaburn Masterplan.
“It is understood that there were several bidders and the council is satisfied that the price paid represents value for money.
“Prior to the council seeking a development partner, to deliver the overall regeneration of the area, a short-term lease is in the process of being granted for the building which will enable it to be used until it is required for redevelopment.”