Class Act

Class Act

Signature Living’s Lawrence and Katie Kenwright (L & M) opening the “Titanic” hotel with Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson (R)

MORE questions arise about the judgement of Liverpool’s elected mayor, Joe Anderson.

The council recently bought the Cunard Building, one of the ‘Three Graces” beside the Mersey, for an undisclosed sum. It needed new offices after hastily flogging its tailor-made HQ, Millennium House. That sale wasn’t advertised on the open market, as is legally required, because, according to a leaked email from council finance director Becky Hellard, doing so would have risked “prejudicing the proposal from the purchaser”.

The proposal? An “aparthotel” based on the life of local football legend Bill Shankly. Classy! The purchaser? “Signature Living Hotel Ltd”. Who they Signature Living is from north Liverpool and caters to hen and stag parties that, according to director Kate Kenwright, “nobody else wants to take”. Even classier!

Kate’s husband, Lawrence Kenwright, is the company’s owner and gregarious public face. Signature Living has risen from zero to hero in just over two years – most famously with a “Titanic-themed” hotel it built in the once-derelict Albion House, former HQ of the White Star line. “[The] council have been amazing really,” said Mr Kenwright, “really dynamic at how they have gone at things.”

Mr K is not always so effusive. An annual return for his company, which would reveal his date of birth, is overdue. Likewise, his Facebook account, which he uses to advertise his business, shields his date of birth – although his friends were wishing him happy birthday on 16 November. Why so shy? In 2004, a Lawrence Kenwright – date of birth 16 November 1965 – was disqualified from being a company director for eight years when he drove a women’s clothing company, Yes Stores, to insolvency owing almost £2m to creditors. Or, as the “Titanic” Kenwright put it in a YouTube interview for the Liverpool Daily Post last year: “Many years ago I had many [clothes] shops … [I] sold them out and started off this business in 2008.”

Asked whether a “fit and proper person” test had been carried out before Mr Kenwright was handed the keys to Millennium. House, the council replied: “All necessary legislative and constitutional procedures were followed, and complied with in concluding the transaction. So that’s all right, then.
Let’s Just hope Mayor Joe’s latest deal doesn’t go the way of the Titanic!

First published in Private Eye magazine, 1373