Mechanics’ firm set be dissolved
8:20am Wednesday 5th September 2012 in News
THE future of the Mechanics’ Institute remains uncertain as the company which owns the faded icon is set to be dissolved.
Companies House, the register of UK firms, says it will strike off and dissolve Forefront Estates Ltd for not complying with rules governing limited businesses.
The firm, whose only remaining director is businessman Mathew Singh, failed to file its annual return – which gives basic details about the company – by the due date of February 21.
The action could have been suspended if Mr Singh had sent in the document or if a third party had raised a reasonable objection by August 29, but Companies House says it did not receive anything and has now started the dissolution process, which will be complete when a notice is published in the London Gazette next Tuesday.
From the date of dissolution, any assets will pass to the Crown because they do not have a legal owner, the company’s bank account will be frozen, and it will no longer exist as a limited company.
It is not clear how this leaves Swindon Council, which has a charge on the property for the £300,000-plus the authority spent on emergency repairs to the building.
The council has started the legal process to recoup another £800,000 for additional work, and it is working up costed plans to completely refurbish the exterior of the building to find a sustainable use for it.
Council leader Rod Bluh said the council was looking into funding options before making its next move.
He said: “Our position is quite simple. We’ve got all sorts of people trying to work up various options or likely options, trying to establish what may be possible in terms of support from Lottery funding etc, and until we know what the possibilities are, we aren’t in a position to know what to do next.
“So it’s having the full facts before any further decisions are made.”
Daniel Rose, the chairman of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, said the trust had predicted some time ago that Forefront Estates would not deliver, but said the dissolution significantly increased the chance of the listed building coming under council control.
He said: “At the end of the day it will come back to what we’ve said all along. The council will end up with this option and what the trust will be doing is lobbying hard to make sure they make the right choice and work with the trust to make sure that building can transfer into community ownership and community use.”
A council spokesman said it had taken legal advice and had been advised the dissolution would not affect its status as a priority creditor.