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TEES VALLEY MAYOR: Mayor linked firm collapsed owing £3m in debts

TEES VALLEY MAYOR: Mayor linked firm collapsed owing £3m in debts

A SPORTSWEAR firm linked to Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen collapsed owing £3m in debts. 

BLK Sport was led by the Conservative mayor while he was a Stockton councillor in 2016.

But the clothing firm later went under in early 2018 – with seven figure debts and money owed to the taxman alongside a string of other creditors.

Mr Houchen said he stepped back from BLK five years ago in January 2017 before officially leaving the business on winning his first term as mayor in May of that year.

The mayor added: “This was a year before BLK started to run into financial difficulties, which occurred after I left the business – as evidenced and confirmed by the report to the insolvency service that was submitted two years ago.”

The metro mayor labelled it a “non-story from five years ago” – and said he’d had a “record of delivery” in the past four years, pointing to Teesside Airport, the former steelworks site, and “securing investment and jobs for the region”.

Documents from Companies House reveal more on how the company entered choppy financial waters – with a liquidator’s report listing a breakdown of creditors owed money.

A statement of affairs dated December 2017 showed HM Revenue and Customs was owed £64,071, rugby union team Cornish Pirates was listed as being owed £35,700, and Teesside firm LV Shipping owed almost £12,400.

Mr Houchen was also listed as a creditor owed £28,000.

The firm eventually collapsed in 2018 with seven-figure debts.

A liquidator’s report from 2019 stated: “We have received claims totalling £3,384,595 from unsecured creditors in these proceedings.

“There will not be sufficient funds available to pay a distribution to unsecured creditors.”

Papers show Mr Houchen ended his tenure as director of the firm on May 5, 2017.

The firm was eventually officially dissolved in January 2020.

Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter


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