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Big wheel costs council £100k

EXCLUSIVE: Simon Binns on how Cityco and Marketing Manchester are owed money too

Written by . Published on February 23rd 2011.

Big wheel costs council £100k

The company that operates the Manchester Big Wheel in Exchange Square owed the council more than £100,000 when it went into administration.

A newly-filed report from administrators at Begbies Traynor show that WTA Global Holdings Ltd ran up a string of Manchester-based creditors before its collapse.

The firm owed the city council £112,000 as well a further £5,800 owed to its city centre management arm Cityco. City TV station Channel M was owed £33,000; Bury-based Events Security Services had £61,000 owed to them and Hyde-based Leisure Technical Consultants is a creditor for £32,000.

Marketing Manchester is owed £2,800 and the nearby Mitre Hotel is owed £300. Peninsula Business Services, owned by Fred Done, is on the list of creditors for £2,700.

None of them are expected to get their money back, according to administrators.

The company, which also operated wheels in Liverpool, Birmingham, Dublin, Weston Super Mare and London, went under in December because it was unable to pay cumulative debts of £950,000 to the Inland Revenue and Sheffield City Council, which had both issued winding up orders.

A company voluntary arrangement proposing 40p in the pound to creditors was knocked back. A lack of customers during ‘off-peak months’ is also given as a reason for the administration.

The director, Elliot Hall, set up a new company to buy back the assets and goodwill for £230,000. The old firm had debts of £16m, with unsecured creditors expected to get nothing.

One of the former directors, Jonathan Shipley, was owed £1.5m as a secured creditor – he has so far received £60,000.

The 55m wheel is still trading as usual under the new firm.

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25 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RicFebruary 23rd 2011.

So this thing is costing us money and it's taking up valuable (award winning) public space. Can it f*ck off now?

CorkboyFebruary 23rd 2011.


I second that. It's crap too, you can't even see over the Arndale

The truth....February 23rd 2011.

Er yes, you can, you can see over all the nearby buildings. Cockboy you've not really been on it have you?

DescartesFebruary 23rd 2011.

Can't we sell it to Salford?

Never have liked it, ruins the space it's rammed into between Selfridges and the old Corn Exchange

Burt CodeineFebruary 23rd 2011.

Surely there some mucky legal thingeys going on here - private company 'building' (effectively given the time it has been there) on public space? It's about as unique as costa coffee...

Secret SquirrelFebruary 23rd 2011.

I'll never understand why the f*ck it was put up in the first place, these wheels in Birmingham, Liverpool and and here aren't exactly the London Eye are they, and anyone that says the view is worth it should have gone to specsavers.

NeilFebruary 23rd 2011.

I remember it being a temporary thing and there was a mini public outcry when it was suggested that it was moved on to the next city willing to pay for it. But, as ever with these things, there was the campaign that Manchester 'needed' it and that if it was good enough for London or Paris (where I think it was heading) or Birmingham then we should have one too. Great - misplaced civic pride does us in again.

The view was highly average at best. What Manchester does not have is an iconic cityscape. It's not Manhattan or Hong Kong or anything even approaching it. All you could see were the air-conditioning units on top of the offices and shops, the cathedral and the Pennines in the far distance. Woohoo. And it never looked busy after the first few months, even in the height of summer.

stupid wheel i hate uFebruary 23rd 2011.

Outrageous! It's one step up from a (Eh, come on certain words are not allowed) carnival attraction...terrible use of quality public space, ridiculous that the previous company was allowed to accumulate £16m in debt,and stupid for allowing it to operate under a new company. Get rid of it!

AnonymousFebruary 23rd 2011.

The whole public 'outcry' when it was suggested that this stupid contraption would leave Manchester was clearly manufactured by the promoters of the wheel and the MEN, jumping on what it thought was a popularist bandwagon (for a change).

That the people of Manchester have not only been deprived of access to Millennium Square but the operating company have managed to escape paying for the priviledge is outrageous. Take it down, kick it out.. stupid, stupid wheel, be gone!!!

magnifuqueFebruary 23rd 2011.

Pay 'em to move it to New Islington, next to the 'best chippy in town'.

public moneyFebruary 23rd 2011.

I want my square back

Eddy FerrisFebruary 23rd 2011.

You can get the same view from the top of the Arndale car park.
The stupid thing a tedious pain in the arse. I wish the bloody travelling carnival it came in on would bugger off to another town.

J E SibberingFebruary 23rd 2011.

It messes up the look of Exchange Square, the design of which (by Martha Schwartz), cost a lotta money - £4m.

Could they remove John Hyatt's windmills as well as the wheel, please?


How did it become a permanent fixture?

the irishFebruary 24th 2011.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: That went too far

Temporary HeroFebruary 24th 2011.

Sell it, sell it today, no messing about and no extra costs just get rid and give us back a precious bit of open space in the city centre.

Charge people £5 to go in the lift to the top of the arndale carpark and look around instead

BeccaFebruary 24th 2011.

The wheel is a bloody waste of time, space and money! The view from the very top is no better than the view I have from my 4th floor flat, and I can wear my jimjams there!

Get it out! Now! Sell the bugger for scrap! (the windmills are alright though)

KarneywatchFebruary 24th 2011.

Marketing Manchester also have Councillor Pat Karney on the board. I wonder how much that costs.

Rob.February 24th 2011.

Hardly surprising that nobody likes it (oh, with apologies to "The Truth..." who does). But wait, Don't I remember our own dear ManCon crying out for it to be kept here when the original lease was up?

Still can't think why.

Steve.CleggFebruary 24th 2011.

send it to ashton right next to soddin ikea we may as well go the full hog

WhirlygigFebruary 24th 2011.

Went on it recently using a Groupon special. Time for it to go - spoils the area completely. And yes, you can see over the Arndale - JUST. But it's not the London Eye, is it? Nice idea for a short while - but has now overstayed its' welcome.

John HarrisFebruary 24th 2011.

So it's loss making? Then get rid. It's not iconic like the London eye, the space could be better used, and the council doesn't have the cash to keep subsidising it (voluntarily or not)

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2011.

The big wheel has cost the council absolutely nothing.

It has cost the taxpayer £100,000.

We need tighter controls on what our employees spend our money on.

ChorltonFebruary 25th 2011.

Anon, don't think its actually cost the taxpayer anything. Assume the money owed is for rent of the square. There might be an opportunity cost there, but its not cash going out.

Scream if you wanna go fasterFebruary 25th 2011.

It's shit.

Daddy coolMarch 2nd 2011.

I took my 6 and 3 year old on last month and as the doors opened and the ride finished, they both said 'Thank god for that!' A truly poor sightseeing attraction and surely something that has been slagged off on trip advisor many times... get shut and bring back something innovative

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