This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
News £100k debt wrien off

MAIDSTONE Council has written off more than £100,000 in unpaid busi- ness rates associated with the recently closed Wonderland nightclub. Stephen Charles Thomas (62),

who is registered at a Milton Keynes address, was a director of two separate companies based at Lockmeadow that have gone bust. He was the sole director of NSG (Maidstone) Ltd, which went into liquidation in January this year owing Maidstone Council £56,705 in business rates. Mr Thomas was also one of two directors of TMH (XL) Limited, which went into administration in July last year, owing the council £59,318. The council’s policy and re- sources committee agreed to write off the £116,000 debt. Going back to the 1990s, not long

after the Lockmeadow complex was built, the premises has seen a variety of clubs – including Jumpin Jaks, Liquid and Envy and Ikon – come and go. For the past three years, its rein- carnation as Wonderland had young clubbers flocking to thewest

side of the Medway. However, Maidstone Council has approved an application to turn part of the club into a trampolining centre, to be run by Gravity Fitness Ltd. Wonderland closed its doors this summer for the final time with a foam party for under 18s.

WHEN a company goes bankrupt, a second company can start up overnight with the same directors – but without any obligation to pay for the failed company’s losses. This is because they appear to be

different entities. The new firm is known as a phoenix company. Fraud happens when directors

abuse the phoenix company arrangement by transferring the as- sets of the failing company below their market value before insol- vency, which reduces the funds available to creditors. There is no suggestion of any il- legality in any of the companieswe have featured in our investigation.

‘Phoenix’ tax loophole Continued from page one

Town Centre Management, who still promoted the opening of the pub in its newsletter in summer 2013. The council is calling for the

Local Government Association to change the law on the ease in which debts can be written off and phoenix companies created. The leader of the council Cllr

Fran Wilson (no relation to Mark and Robert) would not comment on individual cases but said: “If a company known to us closes and reopens under a different name there is absolutely nothing Maid- stone Council can do about it, other than collect business rates in the normalway. “A lot of people think this is not

right but until the Government de- cides to legislate against it there is

Mark Wilson

little we can do.

“I am satis-

fied that the borough has in place robust procedures in relation to col- lecting busi- ness rates.” Of the busi-

ness rates that Maidstone Council suc- cessfully col-

lects, it gets to keep 40%, with 10% given to KCC and the remainder to the Government. Although more than 97.6% of Maidstone businesses pay their rates on time, the council is cur- rently owed more than £1.5m in unpaid rates.

Ailing pub kept alive

Wonderland nightclub in Maid- stone’s Lockmeadow complex could become a centre for trampolining

OTHER failed companies whose unpaid business rates were re- cently written off by Maidstone Council:

Farmshop Restaurant Ltd, oper- ating as Turning Tables, 62-63a High Street (£57,609). Virgo (London), Ltd, 365/366 DukesWalk, The Mall (£56,705). Saffron (London) Ltd, 68Week Street (£53,279). Super-Fly Clothing Ltd, 23 FremlinWalk (£40,761). Invent Events Ltd, 34c Gabriel’s Hill (£30,883). Infinite Leisure Hospitality Ltd, 15-17 King Street (£18,936). Wimpy Maidstone Ltd, 5 Gabriel’s Hill (£16,915). STC Fashions Ltd, 51 Week Street (£12,720). Footchain Ltd, 17 The Mall (£419 – previous debts already written off).

AMARRIED couple have been able to keep hold of The White Horse pub in London Road, Maidstone after being forced to put their struggling company into liquida- tion. Palmers Pub Company Limited, owned by Lee Palmer (58) and his wife Sandra (56),went into liquida- tion in November 2014, leaving a £34,000 debt in business rates that Maidstone Council has written off. Due to difficulties in meeting running costs of The White Horse, which the Allington couple have run since 2009, they lost their home but remain the pub’s landlords after a family member took it over under a new company name. Lee said: “It is unfortunate that, despite all the hard work and effort we have put into this business, we were advised to go into liquidation due to ever increasing outgoings that we could not keep up with. The biggest losses were ours, over £100,000, forcing the sale of our home, which has now all gone.We did not let any local suppliers go unpaid at any stage. “Thankfully, a family member

was able to buy what was left and allowed us to continue to stay at the pub.We put our heart and soul into what we do here to offer a de- cent and safe environment for peo- ple to relax and enjoy themselves. “We are great supporters of local

music and of local charities. We have helped to raise over £3,000 this year alone for various causes. We will continue to provide a serv- ice to our community for as long as we can.”

Beer festival

CAMRA’s East Malling Beer and Cider Festival will be held on Sat- urday, September 5 in the grounds of East Malling Research. It runs from 11am to 7pm and is staffed by members of the Maid- stone and Mid-Kent branch of Camra. There will be more than 75 real ales and 25 ciders and perries. Admission is £4, or £2 for card- carrying Camra members.

Inquest adjourned into fatal crash of festival friends

TWO best friends from East Peck- ham were tragically killed travel- ling home from a music festival. Mark Smith (33) was a passenger

in a car being driven by Alex Green (29). They were travelling home from the Barefoot Festival in Loughborough when the car left the M40 in Oxfordshire and hit a road sign. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Music-lover Mark, who went to Mascalls School in Paddock Wood, trained to be a sound engineer at Nottingham Trent University. He

14 Malling August 2015

ing at music festivals and enjoyed camping in the woods. His family plan to purchase a

piece of woodland in his memory. Mark worked part-time at the

Mark Smith Alex Green

had a recording studio in his par- ents' garden, where he helped friends record and produce music. He spent his spare time volunteer-

Co-op in Pound Road, East Peck- ham, which started the ball rolling with a collection, yielding £500 in four days.An online giving site has seen more money pouring in to- wards the £5,000 target. Mark was the youngest of three children and a spokesman for the family said: “The woods will be open to everyone that knew Mark

and all will be welcome to join us for a night under the stars on Mark’s birthday each year.” Teaching assistant Alex Green

had moved to Stratford-upon-Avon from East Peckham, butwas due to move back to Kent this month with his wife Jessica, who he married in 2012, after obtaining a job inWest- erham. An inquest into the deaths was opened and adjourned at Oxford- shire Coroner’s Court on August 4 and is due to resume on January 14 next year.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48