Financial collapse of engineering firm

In a recent letter to the Express, a Mr Paul Bellamy castigates me for my criticism of Gordon Birtwistle and paints a picture of a positively booming Burnley, all down to the herculean efforts of the current MP. What complete nonsense.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle

He carefully omits to mention the scandal of child poverty in the town, the financial ravages inflicted on local government, and other sores including the generally poor and rapidly declining standard of care for the elderly in our society.

But Mr Bellamy’s potshots at me matter little, especially when one considers his critical competence does not extend to an ability to spell my name correctly. Of more importance was a brief letter on the same page from Mr J. Thompson who records he had a visit from Coun.Birtwistle “to assure me he has not been a bankrupt”.

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It is true of course that Coun. Birtwistle was not made personally bankrupt when Stuart Engineering, the company in which he owned 98% of the issued £100 share capital, went resoundingly bust. The company was a separate legal entity from Gordon Birtwistle and his personal assets, including valuable pension rights, were safe from the many unfortunate creditors of the company.

Nevertheless it is worth noting the scale of the financial collapse of the Birtwistle company, illustrated in graphic detail by documents released by the Registrar of Companies. The Draft Directors Statement of Affairs at 30 January 2002 indicated debts of the order of £166,000 to the taxation authorities (Customs & Excise and Inland Revenue) as preferential creditors. Non-preferential claims were shown as just under £588,000, with the main item of £412,221 claimed by a substantial number of trade creditors. The bank overdraft was shown as £355,904 owed to the Royal Bank of Scotland, who as the only fixed charge creditor had a full charge on the company’s property in Oswaldtwistle.

The abstract of receipts and payments issued by the administrator on the discharge of the administrative order in November 2004 shows the Royal Bank of Scotland was the only creditor to receive payment - an amount of £204,797 resulting from the fixed charge on the property. The rest, including the poor taxpayer, got nothing.

So while Coun. Birtwistle can confidently and legitimately claim never to have been made personally bankrupt, it is also true the company of which he was virtually the sole owner and key manager went out of existence owing huge sums of money.

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Harry Brooks (without an ‘e’)

Barnfield Avenue, Burnley