Crawley council to write off irrecoverable debts

Crawley town hall
Crawley town hall

More than £460,000 of unpaid business rates are due to be written off by Crawley Borough Council.

The debts, owed by five companies, have been deemed irrecoverable for various reasons.

Clothes shop Genus UK Ltd, which was housed at 15 County Mall, owes £67,633.43, while Hhgl Ltd, Homebase, in Crawley Avenue, owes £117,148.50.

Both firms entered into Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVA), which allow struggling businesses to pay back a portion of their debts over a long period of time.

New Mount Properties Ltd, of 8&9 Queens Square, owes £164,089.55, but a report to the council’s cabinet has listed the case as being ‘unenforceable’ due to it being an offshore company.

Former County Mall restaurant Smokin Joes owes £64,348.49, and the proposal is to ‘strike off’ the company, meaning it would effectively no longer exist.

The Buyco Ltd, in Pegasus Place, went into liquidation owing £52,092.41.

If all five debts are written off, a total of £465,312.38 will have been lost to the council.

The report also said a further £693,524.48 of debts were written off in 2018/19 for bills such as housing rent, council tax and overpaid benefits, taking the total to more than £1.15m.

The highest portion of those further debts, though, was still business rates, with another £386,840.69 written off.

The report to the cabinet said the council was due to have collected £300m in business rates in 2018/19, with recovery action started for any bills not paid within a set period.

It added: “Despite robust procedures being taken, some debts remain unpaid and prove to be irrecoverable.

“Reasons for this include bankruptcy, being unable to trace the debtor despite the use of tracing agents, death of a debtor where there is no estate, or uneconomic to collect for small balances.”

The cabinet will meet in the town hall, in the Boulevard, at 7.30pm on Wednesday (March 13). Members of the public are welcome to attend.