Published: 13:21, 30 April 2021
| Updated: 13:44, 30 April 2021
A scout group have been left nearly £50,000 out of pocket over building work on their new base when the firm helping to construct it collapsed.
The 1st Snodland Scout Group, who had been raising money for around 20 years, had put plans in place for a new centre after they demolished the original scout hut, close to Clock Tower Mews, in 2014.
More than £65,000 was raised and Sun Buildings Ltd were contracted to construct a steel-framed building but, when Storm Gareth blew down the partly-erected frame in 2019, the trouble began.
Snodland's scout group claim Andrew Johnson, managing director of Sun Buildings Ltd, accepted liability for the damage but as time went on, their volunteers heard less and less from Mr Johnson, who claims he lost £30,000 of his own money on the project.
Sun Buildings Ltd then filed for voluntary administration and appointed a liquidator in October last year. The company has now been brought to an end and was liquidated.
It has left the Snodland scout group devastated and having to start again.
Joanne Morgan, wife of chairman David and an assistant cub scout leader, said: “We have done nothing but fundraise for many years.
“Even last year, we were going to do an Easter egg hunt. We had bought all the Easter eggs, but then, Covid came. In the end, we gave all the Easter eggs away.
“We have had various annual fundraising events that we have organised.
“We are just well out of pocket and we are really upset.
“If anything, we feel ashamed with the fact that we have to re-approach people to ask for funds again.
“It is a bit embarrassing, having to re-approach the subject when people may already have donated.”
Mr Johnson, involved with Sun Buildings Ltd, which was based on Park Street, Luton, according to Companies House, said: “There is no more I can personally do.
“I did try very hard to get it completed but we were significantly held up by their building control people and other issues on the site which caused that business, I’m afraid, to fail.
“It was also affected by Covid and Brexit.
“I tried very hard to keep the thing going, put a lot of my own money in, and in fact, I lost a lot of my personal funds as well.
“So it was not very good.”
He also admitted he had an issue with one of the contractors he had hired but used his own money to pay for new ones to come in.
When asked if there was anything he would like to say to those involved at Snodland scout group, he re-iterated: "Exactly as I just commented that there were significant site issues which were compounded by their control people being very picky.
"I did have a problem with a contractor but, out of my own funds, I paid for a new contractor to come and get the thing sorted.
"But it was a bit late at that point."
Mrs Morgan, whose son 12-year-old Austin is in the scout group, admits there have been plenty of tough times since the start of the saga.
She said: “We don’t really know the best way forward, so we are just putting it out there that we have come unstuck and it is not our fault.
“It is so sad. It is really quite gutting.
“Steve Cameron was the chairman and he has been through so many sleepless nights that he has now handed it over to my husband, David Morgan.
“He is in the building trade, so he has quite a few contacts that have helped to try and push it along a little bit further.
“But our problem is a lack of funds at the moment.”
Snodland resident Mrs Morgan says the scout group caters for around 100 children and the grounds of the site are being maintained to a good standard.
In 2015, when the project was first mooted, there were early issues with the project even then, as they had a disagreement with a builder.
To help support their fundraising campaign, go to https://bit.ly/2SfyUtB.