Creditors Lay Siege To Castle

“It doesn’t look like there’s much hope of any of us getting the money back,” Rebecca Nutter of Acorn Scaffolding said, having learned that the promoters of September’s disastrous rock show at the U.K.’s Scarborough Castle have filed for bankruptcy.

She’ll be among the many creditors who’ll converge on Hull’s Quality Hotel Royal October 26, hoping Matthew Bowker from insolvency practitioners Jacksons Jolliffe Cork can shed some light on how In The Castle Ltd could have tanked with such a splash.

What’s puzzling companies like Acorn, Andrassy Marquees, Greenwood Hire and Innovation Productions (and about a dozen acts including The Wildhearts, Terrorvision, Hanoi Rocks, InMe and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster) is how the September 17 show could take an estimated £115,000 at the gate and yet very few suppliers and artists have received more than a token of what they’re owed.

“There must be some money somewhere,” Andrassy chief Barry Sugden told Pollstar, as his company chased the £12,000 balance it’s owed for supplying marquees.

Meanwhile, John Green of Greenwood Hire – owed £2,800 for forklift trucks – told Scarborough Evening News, “There is money there somewhere, but so far as I can tell, no one has been paid anything.”

What irked the creditors even more is that In The Castle directors Andy Roberts and John Cooper, after failing to pay bills as promised, bounced or stopped cheques their company had issued and then disappeared without leaving any explanation.

James Marshall of English Heritage, which is the government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment and rented the ancient site to the promoters, said he’s passed the matter over to his organisation’s legal department.

“I haven’t been able to get through to either Roberts or Cooper and, as far as I can gather, neither has anybody else,” he explained.

David Bailey, head of visitor ops for English Heritage, is particularly disappointed as the event had drawn a good crowd to the castle and – apart from the financial storm that’s blown up – was seen as a success in terms of attracting visitors to the landmark site. Although his organisation only got a third of the estimated £5,000 site hire, he says it hasn’t been deterred from putting on rock shows at the 900-year-old monument, but a long-term arrangement for In The Castle to promote there has already been scrubbed.

Cooper is citing the loss of the Castle contract as the reason the company can’t trade its way out of trouble.

“The event lost money, but I can’t say how much because I don’t have the figures,” he told Pollstar a couple of days after he and Roberts had contacted Bowker’s office for advice.

“We were going down the route of honouring our debts and moving the company forward, but now we’ve lost future contracts that won’t be easy.”

He insisted that the directors hadn’t taken the money, but was at a loss to explain what happened to it.

Apart from drawing up a list of the creditors and the amounts they claim to be owed, Bowker said he’s also waiting for the records of the company’s income and how that income has been “utilised.”

He’s aware that Detective Sergeant Nigel Farthing of North Yorkshire Police is liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service to see if In The Castle Limited (or any of its directors) has traded fraudulently, including when knowingly insolvent.

He’s also looking into the promoters’ claims that some creditors have taken the law into their own hands and put them under extreme pressure to settle the bills.

— John Gammon