In Brief

16 July 2004
In Brief

Poor trading forces sale of second Puzzle pub
London-based pub group Puzzle is selling its second property this year. A company spokeswoman said it expected the sale of the Puzzle pub on the Fulham Palace Road to be completed "imminently". She was not prepared to say who it was being sold to, or for how much, but said it was due to "poor trading". In April the company sold its Puzzle pub in Balham for the same reason. The company, which was formed 10 years ago, will be left with 10 pubs. It bought nine pubs for £3.5m two years ago from Gerry Martin's Old Monk Company.

Poor trading forces sale of second Puzzle pub Caterers at the best-performing councils have been granted powers to compete in the private sector. It means councils rated "excellent", "good" or "fair" under the Government's performance assessment scheme, will be able to compete with private companies to provide services for a profit, including catering, cleaning and leisure. They will have to set up their own companies to do so. The Federation of Small Businesses said it was against the new powers on the grounds of unfair competition, because councils are well funded, have more staff and don't need to make money to survive.

Regent Palace saved
The Regent Palace hotel in London's Piccadilly has been saved from demolition by Westminster City Council. The Crown Estate, which owns the hotel, wanted to replace it with shops, offices, restaurants and bars while turning the adjacent Caf‚ Royal into a 150-bedroom hotel. But Westminster council's planning committee has turned down its proposals, due to the loss of cheap accommodation in central London. The 900-bedroom Regent Palace offers rooms from £45 a night. Councillors said the Crown Estate should explore options to keep the hotel before resubmitting its plans.

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