E11 BID company claims it has fended off winding up order after blaming Waltham Forest Council for tax debt

Chairman Fawad Shaikh said the company successfully argued that the debt built up because Waltham Forest Council failed to collect the annual levy from businesses

Chairman Fawad Shaikh said the company successfully argued that the debt built up because Waltham Forest Council failed to collect the annual levy from businesses

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A business improvement company says it has fought off liquidation after blaming the council for its financial troubles.

Taxpayer funded E11 Bid, which received a levy from businesses to promote commerce in Leytonstone, faced a winding up order from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over an unpaid tax bill.

It is understood the debt, believed to be around £80,000, relates to the non-payment of staff income tax and national insurance.

HMRC refused to comment on the case.

But chairman Fawad Shaikh said the company successfully argued that the debt built up because Waltham Forest Council failed to collect the annual levy from businesses, as it is required to do under an agreement made in 2007, when the business improvement district was created.

An independent report commissioned by the council previously blamed the company’s management for the financial failings.

Mr Shaikh, who runs a printing business in Church Lane, Leytonstone, said the council’s failure to collect the money meant a member of staff was not paid for a year and bill went unpaid.

He said: “Of course, mistakes have been made in the first two years of operations but decisive actions were taken to address some issues and we have a strong structure in place to avoid making those errors again.”

He also criticised business owners who have begun a petition to end the BID over perceived failings and financial mismanagement.

“Over the last 10 years, as a volunteer, I have done more than my fair share for the community,” Mr Shaikh said.

“Some people are going to dislike my methods and some are going to like them.

“For every £1 businesses have invested, we have raised an additional £3 from external sources.

“We could have done more, but some of the former directors in the more recent years have spent more time bickering then delivering.”

Directors of the company, which in the past included deputy council leader Clyde Loakes, were criticised for failing to maintain proper accounts for years.

More than £150,000 of public money has been paid into the scheme.

Waltham Forest council has been approached for comment.

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