James Watt accuses Durham council of 'staggering incompetence'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Epic ineptitude: BrewDog CEO James Watt (pictured) condemns Durham council over opening of firm's new site in the city
Epic ineptitude: BrewDog CEO James Watt (pictured) condemns Durham council over opening of firm's new site in the city

Related tags Brewdog Property Multi-site pub operators

BrewDog’s James Watt has condemned Durham County Council for its “staggering display of incompetence” regarding the firm’s new site in the city, yet the council says it has worked "tirelessly" to help the Ellon-based firm.

In a social media post on LinkedIn, the CEO and co-founder explained the brewery signed a new lease for a site in Durham’s Milburngate development in August 2021, completing construction and preparing to open the bar in 2022.

However, Watt ​claimed the council told BrewDog​, which won two accolades at The Publican Awards earlier this year including Best New Site​, to delay the opening until January this year, though the project’s developer, Tolent, went into administration the following month.

Since then, the BrewDog​ boss alleged the firm had seen “radio silence” as to when the bar can open or what is happening with the development and was still in the dark as to its future.

Epic ineptitude 

However, a representative from the council told The Morning Advertiser​ it is not the developer of Milburngate and the scheme is not in the control of the council, explaining Tolent was the principal contractor working on behalf of the private developer in charge of BrewDog's project.

Durham council also claimed it had not delayed the opening of the bar, adding the plans were "yet to reach practical completion" and that it meets with representatives from BrewDog on a monthly basis to discuss the project, most recently in early October.  

Though Watt stated Everyman Cinemas and Premier Inn were experiencing similar issues to BrewDog with sites at Milburngate.

His post said: “At a time when the UK needs jobs, needs investment, and needs economic rejuvenation more than ever, this staggering display of incompetence here by the council is almost beyond comprehension.

“Due to the epic ineptitude and complete paralysis of the council our economy is missing out on hundreds of jobs, the Government are missing out on valuable tax revenue and the good people of Durham are missing out on brilliant entertainment options.

Working tirelessly 

“We still have no idea when we can open our doors despite the site being ready for well over a year now.
 
“If we need a stark example of why the UK is falling behind other countries in terms of economic prosperity, look no further.”

Durham County Council's spokesperson added while the council was "aware of BrewDog's concerns", it was "disappointed with the progress of the site".

They continued: “[BrewDog] are responsible for resolving issues arising from work carried out by the contractor Tolent that need to be addressed before the site can open. It is not within the council’s remit to say when this will be. The council has worked tirelessly to try and support the success of this scheme, and further information will be provided when it is available."

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