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How rumour mill turned on the wrong hotel
3:00pm Friday 9th September 2011 in Spectator's Notes
ONCE it starts grinding, the rumour mill can be hard to stop.
For example, gossip about the future of Rockliffe Hall Hotel, near Darlington, had become so persistent, the owner – Steve Gibson, chairman of Middlesbrough Football Club – was forced to issue a statement to the effect that the relatively new luxury hotel, spa and golf complex was not for sale.
In any event, Mr Gibson is far too canny a businessman to sell now. The bottom has fallen out of the luxury hotel market, a fact we were reminded of on Monday this week when it was revealed that most of the Von Essen group hotels, which went bust earlier this year, are still awaiting offers.
They include Seaham Hall in County Durham, optimistically valued at £5m, by the Von Essen administrators.
It also became clear on Monday how the rumour about Rockliffe might have started. It was announced that the Croft Hotel, formerly the Croft Spa – only a mile or so down the road – was for sale.
Yours for just £725,000.
IT’S been a good week for William Hague, the Richmond MP and Foreign Secretary, whose steerage of Government policy over Libya has been pretty much vindicated with the overthrow of the Gadaffi regime.
At the start of the NATO campaign, there were a number of media commentators who, pointing to the botched SAS operation behind Libyan lines and the “Gadaffi is heading for Venezuala” remark, were suggesting he had lost his sure touch, and enthusiasm, for government.
Although not a man given to self-congratulation, he must surely have allowed himself at least an inner smile at The Times leading article on Friday, which fulsomely praised the role he had played.
A familiar face
A FACE familiar to Teessiders appeared on the national breakfast TV news this week.
Thomas Packer, one-time headmaster of Teesside High School, was on the BBC Breakfast sofa on Monday engaged in debate about the Government’s free schools’ policy with another head teacher.
Mr Packer, now the head of the West London Free School, gave as good as he got in the pro/anti free school debate, fiercely defending the concept of schools funded by the state but run independently.
We’ll be hearing more from Mr Packer given the media profile of the school and its cofounder, author Toby Young.