Shepwayvox has spoken with a former SDC officer who worked for them between 1994 – 2005/6. One of their many responsibilities included compiling the Council’s claim in matters of insolvency. They are an honest person, something they could and did verify to us by showing us their section reviews they received each year from their more senior managers in the Corporate Debt Recovery Team.
During their tenure with SDC it came to their attention that an exceptionally high number of limited liability companies were being dissolved or struck off that were based/located at The Grand (Below)
All companies had arrears of local taxes and worse, payment for services rendered by Shepway District Council; which of course had a direct affect to the Councils cash flow.
There were a number of companies, all having similar titles: Keppels Ltd, Kepples SE Ltd, Kentish Cusine and so forth. (these given by way of non-exact example) and all having at least two particular directors in common. Usually Mr Michael and Mrs Doris Stainer as far as they can recall.
One company was also the cause of a personal bankruptcy…a Chef at the premises had been invited to become a director, been cajoled into purchasing new tables, chairs and equipment for the restaurant. In order to do so, the poor chap mortgaged his house at in Seabrook.
When the company he was director of was dissolved, like so many others at The Grand, the knock on effect was the loss of his home. It was this event that made the officer review what was going on more thoroughly.
To cut a long story short the file that the recovery officer held stood some three inches high on their desk. Attempts to get senior officers to get involved went nowhere. (Is it still happening?)
Pointing out there was what is commonly known as a rogue director, using what is known as phoenix companies to avoid paying debts, not just to the Council, but to the public purse (including HMRC but that came later) but to who knows how many suppliers, many local. It made no difference and the loss of revenue continued.
Within the walls of the Civic Centre at the time “fairness” (not that there was any) was a big word so the officer used it to make a noise about this situation and was consistently pushed aside until one day they were “invited” to pass the file to the Legal Department, which was led by Estelle Culligan, former SDC Solicitor to the Council.
This they did with the recommendation that SDC Solicitors (Estelle Culligan) petition the DTI to use it’s powers to ban Mr Stainer from holding any further company directorships.
Within weeks of putting these recommendations forward the officer was forced to leave SDC for being a “disruptive influence” and for “singling out individuals such as Mr Stainer. (below)
Here was an officer warning SDC about a loss of revenue, but they elected to do nothing. Mr Alistair Stewart was on-board as the CEO and he along with others let the revenue go. How can Mr Stewart tell us that he is and has “safeguarded SDC from any implication of dishonesty and corruption”?