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Trump family told not to spend another penny in Aberdeen

Close ally Stewart Spence offers advice 'as a friend and a businessman'.

Family affair: Trump and sons during visit to Scotland.
Family affair: Trump and sons during visit to Scotland. PA

One of Donald Trump's closest Scottish allies urged the billionaire's sons "not to spend another penny" in Aberdeen.

Hotelier Stewart Spence tried to persuade Eric and Donald Jr to delay investing while the city rides out the oil downturn.

They were handed control of Trump's Scottish golf interests when their father became US president, although he still owns the courses.

Eric Trump recently claimed the first family has "great plans" for the north east but supporter Spence encouraged them to hold back.

'My advice was to tell them not to spend another penny in Aberdeen, as a friend and a businessman.'
Hotelier Stewart Spence

"What they have given us in the north east is amazing already," said Mr Spence, who owns Aberdeen's five-star Marcliffe Hotel.

"Because there is such a downturn in Aberdeen... I just couldn't see them getting a return on investing more money than they've already invested.

"The property register has 5000 houses for sale, why do you want to build more houses? My advice was to tell them not to spend another penny in Aberdeen, as a friend and a businessman."

Trump has repeatedly delayed the development of his award-winning resort near Balmedie.

He won permission to build two 18-hole courses in 2008, along with a 450-bedroom hotel, 950 holiday homes and up to 500 homes.

Only one course and a small hotel have been built so far and alternative plans leaving out key parts of the original £1bn scheme have been tabled.

The Scottish Government has insisted Trump must stick to his first design, however, which includes affordable housing and a primary school.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1376447-donald-trump-must-stick-to-1bn-plan-for-scots-golf-resort/ | default

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said she was "disappointed" by Mr Spence's comments to STV News and USA Today.

"I would encourage people to come and invest in Aberdeen, I think there is a bright future here."

In a recent interview with the Press and Journal, Eric Trump discussed the impact of the oil downturn on Aberdeen.

"Oil isn't doing as it was three years ago," he said. "I'm not sure oil is going to get back to those prices any time soon so I think it's important to diversify the economy.

"I think economic stimulus and economic investment is crucial for an area and I think we've done that as well if not better than anybody. I think that should be praised."

He added: "Think of the hundreds of people that rely on this property every day to put money in their pocket, to feed their families, to educate their children and the same thing with all the properties."

Trump promised to create 800 new jobs at Trump International but less than 100 people worked there in 2015, according to the latest accounts.

It has lost more than £1m each year since it opened despite repeatedly being rated the best modern course in Britain by Golfweek.

'Stewart Spence is a dear friend [but] the Trump Organisation remains committed to its assets and investment in Aberdeen.'
Trump spokeswoman

A Trump Organisation spokeswoman said the company "remains as committed as ever" to the north east.

"Stewart Spence is a dear friend of the company," she said. "He has over the years expressed his concerns about the different market and economic challenges facing the north east of Scotland.

"Trump International Golf Links is a long-term, multiple-phased investment project to be developed over many years and will take into account changes in market conditions as it evolves.

"However, as recently reported, the Trump Organisation remains as committed as ever to its assets and investment in Aberdeen.

"Details of the next phase of development will be released later this year."

Donald Trump Sr was encouraged to walk away from his business interests and place them in a blind trust following his election in November.

The billionaire instead handed control to his children. Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr both act as political advisers to their father as well as running his Scottish golf courses.

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