18th August 2018
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Liquidator called in to troubled construction firm JHB

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Troubled construction company JHB Ltd has gone out of business owing thousands of pounds to companies across the isles and almost a quarter of a million to the tax man.

The beleaguered building firm went into liquidation just over two weeks ago, although it had ef­fectively lain dormant for several weeks before then.

Accountants KPMG in Aberdeen was appointed interim liquidator by Lerwick Sheriff Court on 22nd March.

Neil Armour of KPMG said efforts were being made to reunite some of those owed money by JHB with their cash.

A specially-arranged creditors meeting will be held later this month, although the exact date is not yet known.

“The company is in liquidation and has ceased trading,” Mr Armour told The Shetland Times. “I was appointed interim liquidator on 22nd March by Lerwick Sheriff Court.

“The company had effectively ceased trading before I was appointed, with almost all employ­ees having been made redundant prior to my appointment. We will now proceed to in-gather the company’s assets.

“A meeting of creditors will be convened and is likely to be held in late April. All known creditors will be notified of the arrangements for that meeting.”

He added he did not expect there to be a sale of the company as a business, given that it had ceased trading prior to his appointment.

JHB admitted it was having problems after a planning row over proposed new houses for Scalloway led to ongoing delays in work getting started.

In February it emerged JHB was being pursued by the tax man for £228,634 in unpaid taxes and national insurance.

Back then a petition from HMRC was posted on the wall at Lerwick Sheriff Court requiring a response within eight days to prevent the firm from going out of business.

At the time managing director John Halcrow said he was confident the company could come to an arrangement with revenue and customs – however it is now clear that optimism was misplaced.

Scalloway-based WHD Plant also brought a complaint against the company after it was owed £35,000 in unpaid bills.

A WHD source, who did not wish to be named, said JHB’s demise had left a lot of smaller contractors out of pocket.

He said the company were “always very slow” in settling unpaid bills.

JHB had been pinning its hopes on the major housing scheme for upper Scalloway and Utnabrake, but problems getting started result­ed in two thirds of its workforce having to be shed at the beginning of February.

By then councillors had agreed to defer a decision on the houses for two cycles after hearing the development was being planned on good agricultural land.

They wanted to hear the outcome of a still ongoing appeal against refusal on a similar scheme in Tingwall’s Veensgarth, refused last year because it, too, was on good ground.

Mr Halcrow subsequently raised a complaint of maladministration against the council’s planning service over the way it handled the application, lodged as far back as July in a partnership with Hjaltland Housing Association.

Planning board chairman Frank Rob­ert­son said he had heard “not a single thing” from Hjaltland Hous­ing Association regarding the Utnabrake houses since the JHB collapse.

No-one was available for comment from Hjaltland Housing yesterday, however Central Main­land councillor Betty Fullerton – who previously called for a speedy resolution to the housing row – said she hoped Hjaltland would be able to find a way forward to build the Scalloway houses.

“The Utnabrake development is still very important because there is still a need for social housing.”

JHB’s failure could also have an impact on the Shetland Bus Friend­ship Society, which is having an £800,000 conversion done to the former Scalloway Woollen Mill to become the new Scalloway Museum.

The friendship society’s Jack Burgess said efforts were underway to appoint a new contractor to allow the partially completed work to carry on.

Mr Halcrow failed to respond to calls from The Shetland Times.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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