More than 250 creditors of a prominent Birmingham property developer which collapsed four years ago face writing off losses of nearly £4 million – with no hope of a penny in payouts.
The full financial fallout from the insolvency in 2008 of Jewellery Quarter firm William Ashley Developments, which fell into compulsory liquidation with overall debts of £3.8 million, can be revealed for the first time.
And the Birmingham Post can disclose that former group chairman Mike Downes and his wife Claire were both made bankrupt in the wake of the William Ashley insolvency.
Dozens of supply firms in the Midlands, including plumbers, electricians, window companies and painters and decorators, were caught up in the collapse of the Jewellery Quarter firm, with some owed substantial five-figure sums.
One creditor, bricklayer Ian Lewis, of Wolverhampton, who is owed £82,032, said the William Ashley collapse had cost him his marriage.
“They approached me in 2007 and I had bricklaying contracts for various sites, including the Jewellery Quarter and Gornal.
“I have never received a penny for over £80,000 owed. I had 16 bricklayers working on this and I stood the whole debt. I have had to remortgage my house and this has cost me my marriage.
"We are four years down the line now and it seems that investigations with the Insolvency Service have ceased. Nobody has had any money at all and a hell of a lof of lives have been affected by this.”
Another creditor, former William Ashley Developments construction director Richard Darlow, owed over £23,000, said: “People lost their homes, their cars and their livelihoods. So many people’s lives were destroyed.
“I was left with no job, no salary and in debt. I was made redundant by e-mail. I am out the other side now but it took four years of hard work. I was out of work for nine months and I had to go to work in the Middle East.
“I couldn’t pay my mortgage, bank loans and credit cards for nine months. It has been a massive struggle for four years.”
The Birmingham Post has obtained a full list of more than 250 creditors left with debts. They include AW Lumb of Tamworth, owed £59,117, Alpha Wastecare of Hockley, Birmingham, owed £15,150, Avonside Roofing West Midlands, of Cannock, owed £37,202 and BJ Bird Plasterers of Cannock, owed £18,232.
Bannes Gate of Halesowen were owed £43,933, Buildbase of Cradley Heath were left with a debt of £40,799, Central Scaffolding of Wednesbury were owed £51,039 and Countrywide Electrical of Summer Lane, Birmingham, were owed £74,589.
E Aston and Son Ltd of Bilston were owed £33,781, Erdington Welded Fabrications of Witton, Birmingham, were left with debts of £30,571 and Fabric 8 (GB) of Hamstead, Birmingham, were owed £33,786.
Meanwhile, NatWest Bank were owed £459,399, HM Revenue and Customers were owed £226,597, Now Recruitment of Birmingham were owed £126,508, Parkstone Construction of Castle Bromwich were owed £117,384 and the Malcolm Payne Group of Birmingham were left with debts of £49,350.
Robert Prettie and Co of Tamworth were owed £63,096, SM Roofing Supplies of Pelsall, Walsall, were owed £35,882, Thomas Kelly Plastering of Hall Green, Birmingham, were owed £92,006 and The Window Centre of Shirley, Solihull, were owed £70,075.
In a letter to creditors, liquidator Nick Rimes of Bewdley-based Rimes and Co, said: “Following the winding up of this company (William Ashley Developments), many connected companies became subject to their own insolvency proceedings, with little evident prospect of being able to pay any monies that could be identified as due, bearing in mind that in his report to creditors, the Official Receiver stated that it appeared that this company had no assets to realise.
“In addition, following my appointment as liquidator, Mr Downes was personally subject to a bankruptcy order, however, he has now been discharged.”
In a subsequent letter, Mr Rimes said: “I do not propose to comment on the trading activities of the director or any member of his family.
“Mr Downes has received his automatic discharge from bankruptcy and has not been disqualified from acting as a director of a company as far as I am aware, save for the period that he was an undischarged bankrupt. He is therefore within his rights to act as a director of a limited company.”
A final meeting of creditors is still to be held. Michael Downes, described as unemployed, was made bankrupt on January 12, 2009, while his wife Claire, described as a self-employed interior designer, was declared bankrupt on January 21, 2010.
Mr Downes told the Post: “I am working for myself at present. I have no further comment to make.”