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Blow to Benfleet company over £12,000 contract
A Benfleet company claims it has been left £12,000 out of pocket after one of the major contractors for the £5million revamp of Waterside Farm Leisure Centre went into administration.
Castle Point Council is splashing the cash to renovate the Seventies-built facility in Somnes Avenue, Canvey, to enable it to stay open for another 20 years.
The council hired major contractor Morgan Sindall to carry out the work, who then hired A P Thompson Sports Engineering Limited which then hired local contractors in the area to complete the renovation.
However, A P Thompson fell into administration on September 27 placing local businesses in jeopardy.
Ronald Downs, director of Unidig, based in Rhoda Road North, in Benfleet said they have been left in turmoil as they have not been paid £12,000 owed for installing the new football pitch on land behind the leisure centre.
The issue had meant the company has been forced to lay off almost a third of its staff.
Mr Downs, who has owned the company for six years, said: “It is absolutely disgusting that the company would hire us at the start of September, literally weeks before they went into administration. Surely they could see they were in financial trouble.
“Now we’ve been left in such a predicament as £12,000 is a huge amount of money for a business like ours. Unfortunately we’ve been forced to let people go because we cannot afford to keep them on, which is the last thing we want. We bought all the materials, did a good job and are getting nothing for it.”
This comes after the council announced last week it would have to spend an additional £1million on the revamp to install a new roof meaning the project would be delayed for three months.
However, the authority maintains the problem will come at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
A spokeswoman forCastle Point Council said: “We became aware once the company had gone into administration, but we had no prior knowledge. Our contract is with Morgan Sindall, how the works are completed is a matter for them to decide. There are penalty clauses in our contract with Morgan Sindall if this phase of the works overrun.
“The Council has no contract with the companies hired by AP Thompson so its powers are very limited. The Council would recommend that the companies seek legal advice.”
The project has already seen some controversy after the Echo reported scores of staff members at Waterside and Runnymede Swimming Pool in Benfleet were asked to take up voluntary redundancy while the work was carried out.
A spokesman for Morgan Sindall said: “The construction industry has undoubtedly been affected by the downturn and it’s always disappointing to hear of a company experiencing serious financial difficulties.
“However, the contracts that AP Thompson Sports Engineering Limited entered into with its supply chain are wholly a matter for that business. Its creditors therefore need to address their enquiries to the parties handling that business.”
The Echo telephoned A P Thompson numerous times for a comment but was unable to get a response.
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