Bankrupt Birmingham’s council house could become a hotel

Construction of the mammoth council house, so large it has its own postcode, began in 1874 when the first stone was laid by city mayor Joseph Chamberlain, one of the great statesmen of the Victorian era.

It could now be included in a firesale of the city council’s assets designed to save taxpayers footing the bill for huge liabilities built up by the Labour-run authority.

A Conservative source said: “Birmingham council actually has a huge property bank which could raise more than enough money to pay off all its debts.

“The council house is in a prime location at the heart of the city centre, close to the International Convention Centre, bars and restaurants and shops including Selfridges.

“It looks fantastic and could easily be sold off to a hotel chain.”

The council house, which includes an ornate banqueting suite, faces onto Birmingham’s  Victoria Square, which features a statue of Queen Victoria and a sculpture showing a woman in a fountain, known locally as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi.

READ MORE: Broke city Birmingham may sell its historic council house to pay off debts

The city council also owns a share of Birmingham Airport, serving 9.6 million passengers a year, which could also be sold.

It previously sold the NEC Group, which includes the National Exhibition Centre, for £307 million in 2015 in an earlier attempt to pay off its debts. The new owners went on to sell it for £800 million just three years later, leading to claims the council had sold it for less than it was worth.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove last week announced he will appoint commissioners to take over Birmingham City Council and will launch a local inquiry into the authority after it declared itself effectively bankrupt.

The Communities Secretary said he was “satisfied that Birmingham City Council is failing to comply with its best value duty” after it issued a Section 114 notice.

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Mr Gove told MPs: “It has sadly been the case in the past with local authorities that have failed, like Croydon and like Slough, that we have needed both to increase council tax in certain circumstances and to dispose of assets.”

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