Monday, 27 February 2012

Answers (and more questions) about the funding of the stadium

Last week I blogged about the questions raised by the resignation letter of Cllr Scott Mann, the former Deputy Leader of the Conservative group in Cornwall Council. In his letter, Cllr Mann suggested that his group had twice voted not to put an further public money into the project but that there was now a plan by the leader to spend up to £16 million.

I've just had the following reply to my questions of last week:

Statement re Stadium funding

Following recent media reports over the question of funding for the proposed Stadium for Cornwall, the Council would like to make it clear that there has been no proposal to use council tax payers’ money to fund the Stadium’s construction.

A detailed report outlining potential options was considered by Members of the Environment and Economy Overview and Scrutiny committee at its meeting on 22 February. The Council’s Cabinet will be considering this matter at a future meeting.

The Council has not changed its position with regard to the funding for the Stadium for Cornwall project. Suggestions in the media, therefore, that the Council has now agreed to provide up to £15 million of public money to fund the Stadium’s construction are inaccurate.

This is hardly the comprehensive response that those of us who are not part of the Tory group were after. Although there may have been no proposal for public money until now, there is still no guarantee that the subject won't be considered in the future (or, indeed, that it isn't being considered at this moment).

At the same time, another councillor has raised concerns about the company behind the stadium project. Cllr Bob Egerton has just sent the following email to all councillors:

Inox is the organisation that applied for planning permission for the Stadium for Cornwall and is also hoping to develop a large number of houses in that area. You may be curious to find out who Inox really are.

There is a website
In the section of the website entitled “Projects”, there are 6 pages as follows:
Olympia, Glasgow Coming soon
Truro, Cornwall Coming soon
North Devon Coming soon
Whitby, Yorkshire Coming soon
Sandy, Bedfordshire Coming soon
South Devon Coming soon
Curious that there is no mention of projects that have actually been finished, or even started.
The address for Inox Group is given as The Senate Building, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter. Nice prestigious address. Although the Inox group has ambitions to deliver a £300 million build project in Truro, they are keeping their costs down by not taking a vast amount of office space on a long lease; instead, they are renting a serviced office from Forsyth Business Centre in that building. This could be as little as a work station and a phone line. Very prudent.
In the section “About Us”, there is wording on Our Vision, Our Objectives and Our Prospects, but no mention of any particular individuals or even of any particular limited company. Inox Group is not a registered limited company, although there are a few registered limited companies with the word Inox in the title (more later).
Technically, it is an offence under the Companies Act not to display on a business website the name of the legal organisation, whether it be a sole trader, partnership or limited company that is responsible for the site. In the case of a limited company this should include the proper registered name of the company and the registered number. However, this is probably just an oversight and I expect that Devon Trading Standards have got more pressing issues on their desks to pursue.

Limited companies
The title Inox Group is not specific as to what it encompasses. However, there are 3 limited companies with the first word Inox in their names that have The Senate Building, Exeter as their registered office address. There is also Exemplar Projects (Truro) Ltd. at the same address. Some information about these companies (all in the public domain at Companies House) is as follows.
Inox Property Ltd. incorporated 2008. Last accounts up to 28/2/10 showed a net worth of minus £72k. The following year’s accounts have not yet been submitted and are marked in Companies House as “Overdue”.
Inox Capital Ltd. incorporated 2010. No accounts yet filed. Accounts were due to be filed by 19/2/12, but Companies House has them marked as “Overdue”.
Inox Capital Investment Ltd. incorporated 2010. Accounts to 30/6/11 filed and marked as “Dormant”, i.e. no significant financial transaction had occurred in the period covered by the accounts.
Exemplar Projects (Truro) Ltd. incorporated 2009. Accounts to 30/11/10 filed and marked as “Dormant”.
Mr Robin Saltmarsh is a director of all four of those companies. His fellow directors vary by company, but they all have the surname Saltmarsh.
Mr Robin Saltmarsh is also a director of Cornwall Community Stadium Ltd., the recently formed company that is the planned vehicle for the stadium project. (Co-directors are a Truro College employee and a person with a London address.)
Mr Saltmarsh is also a director of 5 other companies:
Moorlands (Whitby) Ltd.
Sustainable Projects (Sandy) Ltd.
Riversvale Ltd.
Ikona Developments Ltd.
122 Kew Road Ltd.
The accounts for the first two of those companies are marked as dormant. The accounts of the other three are all marked by Companies House as “Overdue”.
So, Mr Saltmarsh is a director of nine companies as well as the Stadium company. Of those nine companies, the accounts for four are dormant, the accounts for the other five are overdue in Companies House.
One could say that being late with the submission of one set of accounts is unfortunate; being late with two sets of accounts could be seen as careless; I am not sure what the right adjective is to describe being late with five sets of accounts.

Inox has promised to make a substantial financial contribution towards the Stadium project. (I cannot tell you how much they have promised because that was in part 2 of the Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee meeting last week.) The problem is that I do not know where the money is going to come from. It certainly cannot come from within the balance sheets of any of the “Inox Group”. Perhaps they are waiting on a postal order from their auntie?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Cllr Robertson is happy to heap public opprobrium on councillors who are late in paying their council tax. Will he do the same for companies that Cornwall Council is doing business with who are late filing their accounts?

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