SINGING sensation Susan Boyle’s brother has closed a planned entertainment complex that was set to revitalise an iconic cinema, the Evening News can reveal.
The doors to the former Odeon in Clerk Street have been locked while a bitter spat is played out between the star’s brother, Gerry, who wanted to transform the site into a Las Vegas-style theatre, and his former business partners.
Outraged contractors claim they are considering legal action after allegedly being left thousands of pounds out of pocket for unpaid work they claim they carried out.
Disgruntled Gerry has counter-claimed their gripes, saying he fully intends to reopen with a new business partner after the Christmas holidays because he was not happy with the way they were running the theatre, which part reopened last month.
The row has been seized upon by campaigners who claim the 1930s building deserves a future.
One told the Evening News: “I’d been in once or twice to find the place empty – there was a general air of disappointment.”
The I Dreamed a Dream star’s brother had promised to deliver a high-class cabaret venue in reopening the A-listed building.
But Kirkintilloch-based Braveheart Catering, which signed up to the project, is taking legal advice amid allegations it has been left about £100,000 out of pocket.
The company is understood to have billed the entrepreneur for £55,000 for building improvement costs, which included paintwork, new carpets, wiring and plumbing.
Managing director Stephen Gauld has alleged Mr Boyle shut the venue after admitting he did not have the money “to pay for electricity bills”.
He said: “We’ve been speaking to the lawyers regarding this and they’re formulating what’s to be done.
“Everything that’s been done to the building has been us. Gerry asked us to do it and said to keep a tab of all the costs. He said ‘let me know when you need money’.
“When we asked him for money, he told us he had none. You could have knocked me over with a feather – I could not believe it.”
Mr Gauld said his hospitality business would survive, but added: “It’s a lot of money to us. We’re not a multinational conglomerate, we’re normal working people.”
Mr Boyle has denied the claims, saying he personally spent about £50,000 on upgrades. Since it opened at the start of last month he said he had not seen a penny of bar takings and claimed Braveheart Catering was in breach of its contract, adding: “Despite having a licence to operate until January 2 paid for by us, they’re not really operating the place as we intended. They were using it as a cafe and then closing it at five o’clock and going home. We’re getting all the feedback from the public saying ‘this is terrible’.”
Mr Boyle, who signed a lease from owner Duddingston House Properties (DHP) to run the old cinema, said it would reopen in late January with a different business partner.
A spokesman for DHP said it was not appropriate for the company to comment on a commercial dispute.
Last month’s reopening of the 1930s landmark was limited to a new foyer bar and the grand hall. Work on the rest of the building was to follow.
However, Save the Odeon campaigner Tom Pate said: “To put some paint on the foyer and a jazz band at one end, that’s not what the building’s for.”
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council confirmed it had been informed plans are afoot to reopen.
She said: “The occupier has advised us that the venue has closed temporarily and will reopen again in early 2014.”