Opinion: Why I had to protest outside the House of Commons
Lavender Hotel Group managing director Stefan Sikorski tells Lancashire Business View how the rate swap scandal, which cost his business £600,000, forced him into action.Protesting outside the House of Commons is not part of my day job, but recently I was peacefully objecting to a scandal I have been a victim of which has left the Lavender Hotel Group, my family business, £600,000 out of pocket. I was personally invited to witness the rate swap scandal debate by my local MP, David Nuttall, who championed my case inside the Chamber, whilst hundreds of people who had also been affected gathered to demonstrate outside.
In March 2007, I was mis-sold an interest hedging product and since it has recently transpired that a potential £12bn is now owed to businesses by the banks, I felt the need to rally fellow businessmen and women who have been duped into paying extortionate interest rates on business loans by the banks to speak out like I have.Despite the gravity of the financial burden on the Lavender Group business, the family hotel chain continues to be a thriving business with six hotels across the Lancashire and Greater Manchester regions enjoying continued success, but it was in principle that I spoke out to seek support for other businesses that have been affected.
Whilst I am in broad agreement with the way that the economy has been handled to guide us through the recession, I cannot condone this wholesale mistreatment of SMEs, who are the drivers of the country's future prosperity. At a time when we are looking to increase regulation of the media, are we sure that we have adequate controls over the banks who have even more power and have been gradually unveiled as dishonest?We hear of mis-selling of PPI, but the rate swap scandal has affected many more, costing billions of pounds to 30,000 businesses across the country. Victims of the scandal are up against some of the biggest and most powerful bodies in the country and I hope today I have chipped away at the decision makers and helped to raise awareness of all business men and women like me who have suffered, and in some cases, caved in under the financial pressure - luckily, something which Lavender hasn’t endured.
My aim was to reinforce the point that the government needs to put pressure on the banks to speed up compensation repayment for direct losses to businesses in the first instance, and then redress consequential losses thereafter.I am a private businessman that rarely looks to the spotlight for anything including furthering my own interests, but this is an outrage and the way that it has been handled has compounded the problems. I feel that I needed to go to the government to raise awareness that this has happened, it’s a disgrace. Stefan Sikorski Managing director Lavender Hotel Group