Sunday, 12 December 2010

'Open the books' challenge to developers

Brymbo housing developers pocket £17 million dividends

Developers who want permission to build an extra 150 homes on the old Brymbo Steelworks estate have pocketed more than £17m in dividends in just two years.

Brymbo Developments Ltd recently had a planning application to build another housing estate on the former steelworks site rejected by Wrecsam Council, a scheme the company said would help pay for a key road to link the site with the existing village of Brymbo.

But councillors are now demanding that BDL explains where money from the sale of the existing 500 houses on the site has gone. Accounts filed for 2005-6 reveal that the company made £16.4m from land sales - and paid its shareholders £14.7m in dividends. In 2006-7, a further £2.5m was paid out to shareholders in dividends. Accounts for the past two years have not yet been submitted.

The company's failure to build the link road has been condemned by Plaid Cymru's group of councillors.

Cllr Marc Jones, who leads the Plaid group, said:
"We have every sympathy with residents in Brymbo, and in particular those living in the new housing, who desperately want this road built. It is a disgrace that the developers have been allowed to get away without putting in the basic infrastructure to support this development.

"Residents bought their homes on the understanding that the road would be built and community facilities opened. There should have been a clear agreement, legally enforceable, between the developers and the planning authority to ensure a timescale for opening a new school, shops and the road.

"We have argued consistently that allowing housing developments without developing the accompanying infrastructure causes huge problems for existing and new communities.

"BDL is claiming that it needs money from both this new housing development and a supermarket to pay for the spine road. We challenge BDL to come clean and open its books, so that the people of Brymbo and Tanyfron can see where the money has gone. We believe the cost of the road is a fraction of the money paid out in dividends to company shareholders.

"In addition to that, we should not forget that BDL received £8.5m from the Welsh Development Agency to clear the site almost a decade ago."

He added:
"The latest accounts filed in Companies House by the developer raise other questions. Why is Brymbo Developments Ltd owed £304,000 by a company in which its main shareholder is a partner? That money could build key parts of the spine road. The people of Brymbo deserve some straight answers to some straight questions."

According to the accounts, BDL's ultimate parent company Parkhill 2000 Ltd is owned by three men - 90% is owned by Colin Cornes of Shifnal, Shropshire, and the rest by two other Shropshire-based businessmen - Niall Crabb and P J Smyth.


Iolo Morganwg said...

Concerned Villager said...

As a resident of Brymbo I am appalled that Plaid are again being disruptive and not doing anything to address the problems that are facing the community.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Quite the opposite, Concerned Villager. We're looking for a solution to the problem.
The road can be built for less than £2m - it's reasonable for the developers to explain what resources they have and where previous income has gone.

Brymbo Community Association said...

Can Plaid Whitegate confirm where he has got the costs from for the road?

The figure of less than £2 million is inconsistent with those discussed by the Brymbo Steelworks Liaison Committee which is attended by the developer and Wrexham Council officers.

Plaid Whitegate said...

2 years ago, BDL was asking for money from the Welsh Assembly Government, the figure quoted was £2m.
Cllr Paul Rogers is quoted in the Daily Post (20.2.09) as follows: “We were promised up to 1,000 jobs on site. There is call for local jobs in this community.

”Essentially the link road was delayed due to the fall out of the housing market and the developers are now seeking ways forward with the local authority to facilitate its construction.

“Things have moved on since last year and good progress is being made.

“Hopefully from next week we’ll have an idea of where this development is going and all move forward.

“Given the current climate Brymbo Development Ltd could not pay the £2m for it so everyone must work together in partnership to find a viable option.”

Anonymous said...

Is the Brymbo Steelworks Liaision committee open to everyone in Brymbo? Maybe we should all go along to see what they are discussing next time because it seems to be very cosy with the local councillor, the devloper and the council officers. How much are they saying the road will cost there?

Colin said...

The core of the liaison committee is made up of council officers and BDL representatives who can answer questions from the community.

Many community councillors (Brymbo and Broughton) attend the meetings and thanks to Paul Rogers there are now representatives from a number of community groups including

*Brymbo Community Association
*Brymbo Residents Action Group
*Brymbo Heritage Group
*Lodge Action Group
*Tanyfron and Vron Community Association

This committee challenges the council and developer over the regeneration of the site but also feeds back to residents in the community about developmens that are taking place.

Jane said...

Plaid I don't think you are going to do anything for the community by issuing point scoring press releases?

Max said...

To suggest BDL weren't going to put their hand in their own pocket is nonsense. Plaid Whitegate should have asked to see the financial information held by the Chief Planning Officer at the committee.. had he done so then he would have demonstrated the costs of the road - verified by local authority experts. Based on current land values Brymbo Developments Ltd would have had to make a contribution themselves!

Plaid Whitegate said...

@Max - your first and last sentences seem to contradict each other.
I did ask to see the financial information during committee - as it was confidential it would have meant going in to closed session. I have since had sight of the financial information. Unfortunately as it's confidential I can't discuss it in public, although I think it should be a matter for open debate.
That is one reason why we have asked BDL to open the books.
I note you are not challenging the issue of the £17m paid to 3 shareholders in dividends.

True Wrexham said...

This is just an effort by Plaid to deflect from the fact they voted against progress. A project which would have created employment, helped the local economy, contributed towards WAG housing targets and provided much needed infrastructure as well as retail facilities for the Brymbo area.

Anonymous said...

Is the developer still donating to the Tory cause? Savile Gordon used to be a big donor.

Anonymous said...

True Wrexham - Never a truer word spoken.

Anon - Saville Gordon hasn't been associated with the company for many years according to companies house!

wonderbank said...

Colin Cornes effectively owns BDL. While allowing Brymbo to rot he was busy entertaining MPs like Lewis Moonie and other worthies to six days of salmon fishing in Scotland.

wonderbank said...

From The Sunday Times Rich List
April 26, 2009
Colin Cornes

Rich list 2009
Ranking: 1,550=
Worth: £35m
Down: £43m
Source of wealth: Waste management and plant hire

Cornes, 67, has a £10m stake in Parkhill 2000, the plant hire and land reclamation operation that he founded in Shropshire. In 2007, it made a £1m loss and had net assets worth nearly £13m. In 1999, Cornes sold his waste management company, Parkhill Holdings, for about £41m. Those proceeds, plus his current stake, put him on £35m.

Ranking: 1,012=
Worth: £78m
Source of wealth: Waste management and plant hire

This is the man who cant afford to build the new road and asked WAG for £2m.

Vron said...

@ Wonderbank - I dont think anyone has ever denied Colin Cornes personal wealth? The fact his worth has gone down and that Parkhill made a loss of £1 million in 2007 demonstrates that the likelihood is that there is no money to build the spine road.

With regards to Colin Cornes entertaining politicians, don't tell me Plaid MPs, AMs and Councillors have never received any "freebie entertainment" ..

Jane E said...

What do Plaid hope to gain from causing all this trouble? As they have nothing to lose it wouldn't surprise me if the company walked away from it all and mothballed the site. Then the community would lose out ... all thanks to Plaid.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@JaneE - what we're trying to say is "take a look at the bigger picture" rather than shooting the messenger. Look at BDL's track record of delivery over the past 15 years (yes, it's been that long) before pointing the finger.

Gaz E said...

Plaid Whitegate needs to look at the bigger picture and look what has been achieved in that time thanks to the developer.

Brymbo Developments Ltd have achieved vast amounts in 15 years, yes they had a grant from the South Wales assembly but it nowhere near covered the costs...

Plaid Whitegate said...

Perhaps you can tell us how much it has cost to redevelop the site so far.

The Judge said...

Jane E said:

" wouldn't surprise me if the company walked away from it all and mothballed the site."

That's effectively what they've done. Once their "residential property opportunity" was built and the profits from it transferred into the directors' and shareholders' bank accounts, that was the effective end of their interest in the site. Apart, that is, from trying to push through even more speculative building via their all-too-cosy links with local pols and officials.

Gaz E (related, are we?) said:

"Brymbo Developments Ltd have achieved vast amounts in 15 years..."

Aye, almost all of it for themselves. Where are the small industrial units they promised? Where are the shops and other amenities? Where, indeed, is the spine road they now claim not to have the money to put in, and demand more public money for?

It's more than time for either WMBC or WAG to compulsorily purchase the site for a minimal sum and send Cornes & Co back to Shropshire.

Gaz E said...

As a resident who has lived through the reclamation of the site over the last 20 years I remember the community being told from day one there was no funding for the road, BDL and the council approached the assembly on numerous occassions for the funding however it would have had to wait until the Wrexham Industrial Estate link roads were completed.

There was even scepticism from John Marek that the project would deliver what Karen Sinclair was championing at the time(eg 1000 jobs).

For Plaid Councillors to deny the community something they want is appalling.