EASTBOURNE businesses, owed money by a company fronted by a Conservative councillor which folded, have been told they are not likely to receive any of their money back.
Sterling Automotive Ltd, of which Sovereign councillor Patrick Warner was a director, went into liquidation last year with debts of more than £225,000.
Last month the 31 creditors, including the Inland Revenue which is owed £53,000, and the landlord of the premises which the garage operated from which is almost £25,000 out of pocket, received a credit report from the Official Receiver warning them there was “no prospect of a distribution of funds”.
Local businesses, including car parts suppliers, tyre firms and other garages, are also among the creditors owed thousands – as well as banks and financial institutions.
This week the landlord of the business unit, Geoff Collier, said he felt it was disgraceful that Mr Warner, elected to Eastbourne Borough Council last May, had left local businesses out of pocket, and said it was time for the councillor to step down.
Mr Collier, who said he offered Mr Warner a payment plan but he never responded, said, “Mr Warner states that “he is paying a heavy price” when the fact is that the heavy price is being paid by the businesses who he owes money to.
“He also refers to his debtors as being inflexible when I personally let him continue to occupy my unit without receiving any payment for many months.
“I fail to understand how someone who is in a responsible position can make so many incorrect statements.
“He owes money all over the town and I think it is time he stepped down as a councillor.”
Yesterday Mr Warner said, “I have taken no pleasure in the failure of the business and nobody worked harder than me to try and save it.
“Half of the debt to the creditors is personally guaranteed by myself and I am working very hard to get that sorted. I followed advice very carefully to minimise problems when the business folded.”
Mr Warner also said his business dealings were completely separate to his work as a councillor.
He said, “I was elected to serve for four years by the residents of Sovereign Harbour and that is what I intend to do.”