Depends of course on what you call normal! And one can only feel sorry for those public officials, the Insolvency Practitioners, charged with making sense of the complex web of businesses trading rent-free at the Grand. They have to wade through a series of liquidations dating back to the early 1990s, Michael Stainer’s Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) of 1995, his current personal bankruptcy, the current ongoing liquidations and now Council bailiffs have turned up at the Grand’s doors! Lets just hope the bailiffs have not allowed him to pay in instalments, as they have no fiduciary powers to allow that. Only the Council can authorise that.
Various reliable sources have confirmed that unpaid business rates led to this unexpected visit last Friday – 25th January 2019 – which itself could only come about following the formal issue of a liability notice at a local magistrates court.
There is another worrying element about this. According to the January 2019 Business Rates Information register, available here the entity responsible for paying these business rates is The Grand Folkestone Partnership Ltd according to Folkestone & Hythe District Council Website.
During the process of this liquidation, Mr Stainer admitted that there was some £10,000 owing in unpaid Council tax (We blogged about Stainer’s unpaid Council Tax back in April 2016, so nearly three years ago.) So how come the Council didn’t immediately revert to the company that owned the Grand, namely Hallam Estates Ltd?
The Business Rates register throws up another worrying anomaly — seven suites which were being used as holiday lets. These were in fact, privately owned by one or other of the Stainers — we say were, because they now belong to the Trustee in Bankruptcy, Adrian Dante of MacIntyre Hudson, more commonly known as the Insolvency Practitioner. Here too, the entity responsible for paying is/was the Grand Folkestone Partnership Ltd. But from September 17th 2018, right up to the publication of this register earlier this month, the Council seemed to have ignored the insolvency, and instead of pursuing the flat’s owners while they were still solvent, sat on their hands, did nothing and left the Council budget with a huge hole. To make matters worse, throughout this period, these flats were rented out for between £140 and £200 per night? So where’s the money gone? Will we ever get it back? Anything to say Mr Stainer?
In the meantime, the Insolvency Practitioners play hide and seek with Mr Stainer, who should be cooperating in every way with their efforts to identify, value and realise the assets for the benefit of all creditors. Mr Stainer “has a statutory duty to give to the official receiver such information as he/she may reasonably require concerning the company and its promotion, formation, business, dealings, affairs or property and to attend any meetings as the official receiver may reasonably require.” If he doesn’t, beware: “A failure to co-operate by a company officer, constitutes a criminal offence for which he/she may be prosecuted”.
So what assets do the Stainers have in the UK? 18 flats in the Grand for starters, plus ultimately, their own flat.
But the rental income from the holiday flats keeps the whole trading edifice of the Grand afloat, according to Mr Stainer’s own solicitor, Andrew Duncan of Allsquare Law. As it seems highly unlikely that MacIntyre Hudson see themselves as running a holiday let business, and anyhow, the leases prohibit this, the future looks bleak. And guess who will suffer? The undeserving staff of the Grand while their bosses and manager will probably walk away, if not laughing, smiling.
Just for the record, there is one director responsible for all currently solvent businesses, including Hallam Estates Ltd. He is Mr Robert Graham Moss and he is a very brave man who has to prise Michael Stainer’s hands of the tiller. Henry Bolton OBE, a man of undoubted and proven bravery in known war zones, lasted less than a week – good luck Mr Moss.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime