Crusade Building Services Ltd (CBS) lost their CheckaTrade and Trading Standards approval in 2018/2019 due to many complaints of poor practice and breaches of planning and building regs including the non-fire compliant refurb of Ross House. Since then, they have lost at least three court cases totaling over £50,000, plus court costs and Sheriff’s fees which continue to mount as Daniel Knight (Director) (pictured) refuses to pay out. Daniel has been stating since September 2019 that they are no longer trading yet we know of properties in Elham, Lyminge and Wingham as well as Folkestone where CBS have worked since this time. CBS website and Facebook page are no more, and they have removed all logos from their vans presumably so they can work incognito.
Companies house records have not been updated to reflect these changes.
Until January 2020 CBS used a lockup in Hythe which they rented from AgeUk Hythe & Lyminge. Now we know CBS have a long-standing working relationship with both Safehands mobility and AgeUk Hythe & Lyminge whose Secretary and Chief executive is Cleo Smith (pictured), wife of Neil Smith, Manager of Safehands Mobility Ltd. When the court appointed Sheriff approached AgeUK Hythe & Lyminge with regards to the seizing of goods belonging to CBS the representative for AgeUK Hythe & Lyminge, Cleo Smith informed the Sheriffs that they had leased the lockup to Crusade Building Services until May 2019. So knowing that it is a criminal offence to mislead crown agents one must assume that Crusades were using it for free until they vacated it in January 2020, which is very obliging of a charitable organisation. Did Cleo inform her trustees she’d allowed free use of the lock up for seven months? It may be time for the board of trustees for AgeUk Hythe & Lyminge to look into how contracts with these companies are arranged and if they have an open and fair process when buying goods and services. It must be noted that the work undertaken by AgeUk Hythe & Lyminge or their staff and volunteers is not in question and is highly valued in the area.
Daniel Knight is a long-time friend of Sue Smith (Director of Safehands) and her family. CBS have done several jobs for them in recent years. These include the office/flat conversions at 2a St Hildas road, Cheriton (owned by Sue Smith) and more recently the unapproved workshop built on land which was formerly part of a garden adjacent to 347 Cheriton Road. This land was purchased by Sue Smith for £10,000 (without finance) in September 2018 and building work commenced August 2019. (Not September 2019 as claimed on the retrospective planning application). Sue Smith purchased number 351 Cheriton road in December 2019 for £100,000 (without finance) and in February 2020 CBS started work to replace the flat roof, totally refurbish the inside and replace front facias, cladding, windows and doors. Again no planning or building approvals were sought for this works and following the council issuing a section 36 notice for unauthorised works, a retrospective application is due. This work has been ongoing throughout the lockdown period (which is not illegal) however, Daniel Knight has himself claimed that CBS were not working due to the current pandemic. If it were found that Daniel has furloughed his staff and claimed COVID benefits during this time it must also follow that no payments from Sue Smith/Safehands or any other customers have gone through their books.
So back to Safehands Mobility Limited. The company Directors are Susan Smith and son Neil Smith (married to Cleo of Age UK Hythe & Lyminge), they have branches in Folkestone and Thanet. Now Safehands are registered with CheckaTrade and Trading Standards and appear to have very good reviews on the site. They clearly have a lot of very satisfied customers; however since it came to light recently about their use of CBS and breaches in planning and building regs for both of their most recent building projects, ShepwayVox has been notified of several other disturbing irregularities at Safehands. These include;
Claiming batteries for mobility scooters needed replacing when they did not.
Disability aids being sold when they were inappropriate for the customer.
Wheelchairs being sold that did not fit the customers needs and have caused discomfort and pain,
Overcharging customers for repairs, and;
Charging VAT for items where Safehands can reclaim the VAT from HMRC.
Safehands customer base is primarily disabled or vulnerable people, including the elderly and people with physical and learning disabilities. They often may not feel able to speak out when they feel they have been treated unfairly or taken advantage of, or know how to complain which makes it even more disturbing when their financial, physical and emotional well-being has been affected in this way.
If you have any comments on the companies or issues raised in this article, please let us know.
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