Couple hire two wedding venues after fears over original booking

PAID TWICE:  Scott Newcombe and Cassy Mars, who have had to change their wedding plans following the problems faced by their original venue, the Pullman, below.
PAID TWICE: Scott Newcombe and Cassy Mars, who have had to change their wedding plans following the problems faced by their original venue, the Pullman, below.
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A COUPLE have paid twice for their wedding after doubts were cast over a trouble-hit Sunderland venue.

Scott Newcombe, 33, and his fiancee Cassy Marrs, 31, from Houghton, paid just over £2,000 to have their wedding function at The Pullman in Seaburn next Saturday.

The Carriages at The Pullman.

The Carriages at The Pullman.

Now they have had to pay that amount out again after panic set in about whether the coastal venue could host the function in light of its financial troubles.

Last week the Echo revealed the landmark site is in talks with administrators a year after re-opening under the management of Rosalind Leisure.

But venue bosses say they will not refund the cost, as it is still capable of hosting the wedding.

Though The Pullman has closed its Platform 5 restaurant and Carriages tearooms, it is still operating as a function room and hotel.

But Scott, who is dad to Alfie, 18 months, says he didn’t want to take a risk on the biggest day of his life.

“We started hearing that there were problems at The Pullman about a month ago and the wedding planner we had been dealing with left, then the chef left.

“The risk of our wedding going belly-up was really making us panic,” said Scott.

The Pullman is only refunding functions which it can no longer stage, meaning Scott and Cassy will not get their money back.

Instead, they have paid around the same amount again to hold their nuptials at the Quayside Exchange in the East End.

Scott, an electrician, said: “We were both panicking like hell with it being four weeks to the wedding. This is the most important day of our lives.

“We had paid the full amount of £2,014, which was a special deal if you booked in 2014.

“We were promised extras, like going to the wholesalers with the wedding planner to choose the table centrepieces, but that never happened.

“The Pullman has said it won’t refund us because it will still host the event, but it’s not the service we paid for any more.

“We couldn’t take a gamble on what they were saying, so we felt forced to pull out.”

A spokesman from Rosalind Leisure, which leased the venue from owner Sunderland City Council, said: “Mr Newcombe made his decision a few weeks back, but we are confident we can still put on his wedding.

“We have a wedding this weekend which is going ahead as planned, as well as a number of other functions in the coming weeks.

“It is only the functions we are not capable of hosting, for which we are giving a refund.

“Although we are not able to cater at a restaurant level at the moment, we still have facilities that are more than adequate for a function.”

Talks are still on-going with corporate recovery firm Begbies Traynor to discuss the possibility of liquidation.

The venue encountered cash-flow difficulties due to the refurbishment of the site, which had previously stood empty for two years.

In August 2012, Sunderland City Council spent about £1.6million to secure the prime seafront hotel site.