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North Kesteven District Council votes in secret to buy The Carre Arms in Sleaford for £1.5 million

A Lincolnshire council has spent just under £1.5 million of public money to buy a family-run hotel in Sleaford, with councillors voting behind closed doors to protect a “key local infrastructure asset.”

The Carre Arms is one of Sleaford’s most recognisable local businesses, operating as a hotel, bar and restaurant under the guidance of the Cuñago family for over two decades — right next to the town’s train station.

As they prepare for retirement, a new landlord for the hotel has presented itself, in the form of the local authority: North Kesteven District Council.

Carre Arms Hotel
Carre Arms Hotel

Councillors voted in favour of acquiring The Carre Arms at full council on February 29, in an agenda item that was unnamed and excluded both the public and the press.

NKDC has since confirmed that this was voted for unanimously across all political parties, with no attending councillors objecting to the deal.

The figure paid by the council is expected to be around £1.5 million when factoring in all additional associated fees, courtesy of the public coffers.

North Kesteven District Council's headquarters
North Kesteven District Council's headquarters

At the same meeting, North Kesteven District Council also approved a 2.68% council tax hike and a 7.7% increase on council housing rent for 2023/24.

The Carre Arms will continue operating despite the change of ownership, as the council pledged to broaden the horizons of hotel provision in the town of Sleaford.

It was done, according to the council, to protect jobs and safeguard the future of the site, as members agreed that there were “significant benefits” to investing in a “key local infrastructure asset.”

The council’s chief executive Ian Fytche said it was too good an opportunity to miss, as the authority looks to bolster the local visitor economy.

“For more than 12 years we have recognised the need for expanded hotel provision in order to meet existing and growing demand for business and visitor accommodation, but that is something that the private sector has not been able to provide,” he said.

“That reality, allied with the broader aspirations of the Sleaford Masterplan and the council’s wider strategic interests in redevelopment opportunities in the immediate area of the Carre Arms, have led to the council taking this proactive intervention.

“It is an action entirely consistent with legal and financial frameworks and will ultimately support the council in both delivering on its objectives and maintaining its own ongoing viability, just as its established Lafford Homes housing company does.”

Mr Fytche added: “Customers of the Carre Arms will see no immediate difference, as there is no change to the operations of the hotel or the circumstances of the employees.

“Along with the retiring owners, who have run a successful business for more than 20 years, we thank them for their goodwill, both now and over the years in providing a much-needed multipurpose venue in the heart of Sleaford.”

North Kesteven District Council view this acquisition as a significant milestone as part of its wider Sleaford Masterplan and regeneration of the town centre, which includes potential pedestrianisation of the Market Place and improvement works to the Handley Monument.

Do you agree with the purchase? Share your views in the comments.

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