THE new general manager of a publicly-funded Hilton hotel says he is 'confident' it will prove a success.

John Lambourne-Richardson will manage Stockton's new mid-market Hampton by Hilton hotel, which is due to open in spring 2019.

Stockton Borough Council is borrowing £17m over 35 years to build the 125-bedroom hotel, which it is hoped will deliver a profit of about £240,000 a year back to the council, in both profits and business rates, after the loan repayments.

The loan has proved controversial with opposition councillors and some members of the public, but the council says there is an 'incredibly strong' business case for the hotel, which it says will bring in £6.7m into the local economy and create about 100 jobs directly and in the supply chain.

Mr Lambourne-Richardson, who has moved to the borough of Stockton from the south of England to run the hotel, told The Northern Echo: "I am confident because the few businesses that I have spoken to in the short time I have been here are very keen for the hotel to be up and running so they can start putting their clients into it.

"There isn't anything in Stockton town centre itself, although there are a few hotels on the perimeter.

"We don't have an international brand in the Tees Valley until we open this hotel and that in itself attracts a new market."

He said there would be a strong market from local businesses as well as from the families of foreign students studying across the river at the University of Durham's Stockton campus.

And the many events in Stockton, including the Great North City Games which it has now secured as an annual event, will provide more custom, as well as the revamped Globe Theatre which will host concerts and music events.

Mr Lambourne-Richardson, who was previously general manager at the busy Holiday Inn Express Folkestone, near the Channel Tunnel, said: "It is going to be a challenge – but an exciting one – because it is new and there hasn't been a hotel in Stockton for a long time."

Recruitment is ongoing and the estimated build completion date is January 25.

The hotel is expected to open some time between February and May, depending on build progress.