Stadium rocks as Bob looks for the Inox piggy-bank
Cornwall Council insists it has no plans to spend public money on the proposed Truro stadium. Would the offer of soft loans, guarantees and infrastructure costs - if such offers were ever to be made - count as spending public money? I'm only asking - but until the council puts someone up for interview on this it's going to be hard to be sure.
And so as the plot thickens over Scott Mann's dramatic resignation, I'm grateful to Alex Folkes for drawing my attention to this email from councillor Bob Egerton to all members of Cornwall Council. Bob has kindly sent me a copy.
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 www.inoxgroup.co.uk
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.
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.
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.
I look forward to putting these questions to Inox when I get to the office tomorrow, but Bob knows what he's talking about and his email seems to have walked that fine line between drawing on publicly-available sources without disclosing details of last week's confidential meeting - although I have now spoken to three councillors who attended that meeting who say they don't understand why it was closed to the press and public because, in their judgement, there was nothing on the table that could genuinely be described as commercially confidential.
It's also strange that this routine due-diligence research seems to have escaped the stadium feasibility study, which has already cost taxpayers £120,000.
I had hoped to learn more about this at the next meeting of the council's cabinet on 14th March. Sadly, this meeting has been postponed. The next full council meeting on 27th March, therefore, looks like being a real barrel of laughs, particularly if any mischievous members should seek to ask impertinent questions about funding for the stadium.