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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Homeless hostel - owned by billionaires - closes

October 06 2011
 Future of one of Perth’s oldest hotels still unclear


Scotland’s billionaire brother and sister business duo - Sir Brian Souter and Anne Gloag - have closed the doors on a Perth landmark which was being used as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

The Stagecoach founders, who in 2009 were reportedly to be worth £1.3billion, bought the Waverley Hotel last October and continued to run it as homeless accommodation.

Souter had initially indicated he would keep the Waverley running as a homeless shelter, making significant improvements and upgrades to the ageing building. But at the end of August the Waverly was closed, making nine staff redundant, while the new owners considered alternative uses for the building.

One of Perth’s oldest hotels, the Waverley was once famed for its high teas but its increasingly dilapidated image has attracted criticism. Perth and Kinross council used the 40-room hotel to provide temporary accommodation for homeless and vulnerable people.

The local authority had been working towards a steady decrease in the number of homeless people housed in B&B accommodation. This shift away from B&B accommodation is believed to have led to the Waverley’s eventual closure.

Housing and Health Convener, Councillor Peter Barrett said: “The Council works hard to identify and provide suitable temporary accommodation for people who are homeless and this can take on a range of forms from hostels, dispersed furnished tenancies to private sector properties. We do use B&B accommodation but only in emergency situations when absolutely necessary.

“The closure of the Waverley Hotel is unfortunate as nine jobs will be lost. I hope that the hotel owners will bring forward proposals for the regeneration and re-use of the building, to preserve employment for staff and to enhance what is a prominent site in the city.”

But for now the future of the Waverley remains unclear. A spokesperson for Anne Gloag said: “The owners of the Waverley Hotel are currently exploring alternative uses for the building. A number of options are being looked at.”

Sir Brian Souter and Anne Gloag have become well known figures in the UK and have been honoured for their philanthropy and commitment to a number of charitable causes including the Bethany Christian Trust, Mary’s Meals and the Mercy Ships.

However, their approach is also controversial. Stagecoach‘s reputation for ruthlessness attracted criticism from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission which once called their practices “predatory, deplorable and against the public interest”.

Sir Brian Souter, who was awarded knighthood in June, has also sparked controversy for his campaign to retain the Section 28 ban on schools from teaching children about homosexuality and for his outspoken opposition to gay marriage.