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Bid to end ‘phoenix’ firms tax loophole

THOUSANDS of pounds of tax is going unpaid because of entrepreneurs who claim their Maidstone-based businesses are bankrupt, only for their assets to be transferred to a company with a different name.

The recipient is known as a phoenix company and though the practice is legal, Maidstone Coun- cil is lobbying for a change in the law after recently writing off £636,883 in unrecoverable business rates from 18 failed public limited companies, accumulated during seven years.

Downs Mail can reveal that Mark

Wilson (52) and his brother Robert (56), who live in separate addresses in Discovery Road, Bearsted, have continued to run Strawberry Moons despite being directors of a string of companies registered at the nightclub's address of 28-32 Gabriel’s Hill that wound up with debts of £2.89m.

This figure includes more than £630,000 owed to the taxman and £63,895 to Maidstone Council. The brothers were additionally directors of two Ashford-based companies – one previously trad- ing as Strawberry Moons Ltd – that went under with debts of £1.4m, in- cluding £327,000 to HMRC. In all, one or both of the Wilson brothers have served on the boards of 10 companies that have folded in the past seven years, owing £4.29m. One of their failed companies

was 1MK Ltd, which had the same address as the nightclub and went under in May last year, owing Maidstone Council £15,403. The council’s policy and resources com-

mittee recently agreed to write off this debt. However, since October 2014

they have been directors of Club Trading Ltd, for whom their regis- tered address is 28-32 Gabriel’s Hill. The following month Straw- berry Moons issued a health and safety statement that confirmed the brothers remained directors of the nightclub. Robert Wilson said: “It is with

deep regret that these companies went into liquidation due to the re- cession. It is also unfortunate that Maidstone Borough Council has had to write off £15,000 in rates. “Everything has been

done in the correct and legal6 Luke’s degree of success Cash query as

A STUDENT from Maidstone who was turned down for his 11-plus exam is hoping to inspire others after picking up a first-class honours degree.

As pupils across the borough

received their A-level results, Luke Coomber (21), from The Hedgerow, Grove Green, proved that academic success can be achieved without attending a grammar school. Luke (pictured) said: “You are

very young when the choice is made as to whether or not you are good enough to go to a grammar school. At that 23

bypass agreed MAIDSTONE Council is set to press ahead with the Leeds-Lang- ley bypass, but there is still no indi- cation of how the scheme will be funded.

01622 690290 YOUR LOCAL PROPERTY EXPERT 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

The proposed road linking the A274 south-east of Maidstone with the A20 near M20 Junction 8 has been an aspiration for more than 30 years. It has become even more im- portant in recent years, with the council's local plan target of 18,560 homes between 2011 and 2031 in- cluding about 4,000 homes along the Sutton Road corridor. Previously the link road idea had caused divisions but the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board, con- taining borough, county and parish councillors, has recommended the inclusion of the scheme in the Inte- grated Transport Strategy (ITS), which will form part of the local plan. But Cllr Paul Carter, who lives in Langley and repre- sents Maidstone Rural8

September 2015 No. 221 News Fun on the river

ALMOST 100 boats lined the Medway for the informal boat gathering, collated by River Medway Boaters. 14

Students celebrate

SCHOOLS across the borough have reported record- breaking A-level results. 22

Hospital boost

THE local NHS Trust says the treatment of strokes is improving.

Congestion hope

MANSTON Airfield will be used to ease the misery caused by Operation Stack. 28

End of market era

MAIDSTONE Country Market has closed just months after its 70th anniversary. 46

Obituaries Comment

46-47 32-33

34 Crime Reports 47

A NUMBER of vehicles were scratched while parked overnight in the Bower Place and Bower Lane areas of Fant.

Parish Councils 47

COLD callers had been arousing suspicion by offering cut-price furniture and enquiring about parked cars in Loose; volunteers were requested to act as flood wardens and to help organise next year’s fete in Tovil.

Ramblin’ fun MAIDSTONE proved it could rock with the best of them, in spite of the rain, when the Ramblin’ Man Fair paid its first visit to the town. Thousands endured Sunday’s downpours at the rock weekender in Mote Park and a repeat performance is planned next year.

16 26

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