Chalcroft collapse 'had been feared for some time', West Norfolk councillor reveals
A senior West Norfolk councillor has admitted he was concerned about the future of a Lynn-based building firm before its collapse earlier this week.
Chalcroft Ltd announced it was going into liquidation on Wednesday afternoon, blaming problems both within the business and the wider construction sector.
Documents seen by the Lynn News suggest the company had more than £12 million of liabilities.
The company was the prinicipal contractor on the multi-million pound project to build a new H&M store in Lynn town centre.
But, speaking during last night's West Norfolk Council meeting, Alistair Beales, the authority's cabinet member for corporate projects and assets, said Chalcroft's collapse had been "feared for some time."
He added: "It's quite right those fears are not expressed to maintain confidence, such as it can be in the supply chain and investors.
"For that reason I haven’t disclosed fears I’ve had for some time.
"At the time (the contract was awarded), we were all extremely pleased a local business had won that contract and it's a matter of serious regret that some of those people are now not employed."
Ahead of last night's meeting H&M reaffirmed its commitment to opening in the town later this year.
And Mr Beales told members the key priority now was to ensure the project was completed on time.
The meeting also heard arrangements had been varied to ensure sub-contractors were paid directly and a new principal contractor will be appointed in due course.
Asked whether the council itself would suffer any financial loss, Mr Beales said it was "too early to say."
But he defended the authority's decision to try to find a new use for the site of the former Beales department store.
He said: "What we could have done is sat on our hands and moped at an empty building. We didn’t choose to do that.
"We moved forward with professional businesses to try to achieve something for our borough and that is what we will continue to do."