Owner of MJB The Lodge hotel denies rumours it has shut in Norwich

The Lodge Hotel on Unthank Road, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Lodge Hotel on Unthank Road, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The owner of a controversial Norwich hotel has denied rumours that it has permanently closed.

Tony Burlingham of MJB Hotels. Photo: Archant

Tony Burlingham of MJB Hotels. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant � 2007

The MJB Lodge hotel on Unthank Road is no longer taking bookings on website Booking.com and the website of the company which operates it, MJB, is no longer online.

Neighbours also reported seeing furniture removed from the property and workmen at the site in recent weeks, sparking hopes from them it was shut.

But its owner Tony Burlingham has since confirmed that the closure was only temporary and that it will eventually reopen.

He said August was 'quiet' for bookings in Norwich and added that a number of his staff had requested holiday.

'It is just easier to close it down for a couple of days,' he said. 'There are not so many people in Norwich this month and I am not going to employ agency staff.'

He said the hotel could reopen in 10 days.

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When this newspaper visited the hotel on Friday there were no cars in the carpark, the doors were shut and nobody was around.

Mr Burlingham's hotels across Norwich were put on the market for a combined total of £7m more than a year ago.

Neighbours and a local councillor have long accused the hotels, where guests just need a key code for access, of attracting drug dealers and prostitutes.Customers, meanwhile, have regularly complained about the conditions of the hotels which are among the worst rated in the city on review site TripAdvisor.

One neighbour of The Lodge, who asked not to be named, said: 'I would prefer to have squatters in there. They would have a little more pride in their surroundings.'

She described reporting repeated incidents to police, including drug dealing and prostitution.

'It is just awful. I have been out in the past because girls have been crying,' she said.

'This has been going on for at least four or five years.'

Green Party councillor for Nelson ward Denise Carlo said: 'The police have been doing a lot of work there and I think they feel as frustrated as the neighbours at the lack of progress there.

'The business is just a public nuisance, and people should not have to live near it.'