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Cafe Britannia liquidation

16 November, 2019 – 06:15

Davina Tanner at Café Britannia. Picture: Matt Keal / mattkealphotography

Davina Tanner at Café Britannia. Picture: Matt Keal / mattkealphotography

Copyright:mattkealphotography

The doors to some of Norwich’s best-loved cafés have firmly shut, but their closure leaves many questions still open. Tom Bristow reports.

Cafe Britannia was owned by Britannia Enterprises which has fallen into liquidation. Picture: ArchantCafe Britannia was owned by Britannia Enterprises which has fallen into liquidation. Picture: Archant

‘Mollie’ is sitting in a car park behind the Fiveways pub in Earlham.

Café Britannia’s once proud blue, cream and red food truck marks a sad end for a business which for the last five years has been praised for helping prisoners and ex-offenders get back into work.

At the start of the month Britannia Enterprises Community Interest Company (CIC), which was behind five cafés at Norwich Prison, the Guildhall, Waterloo Park, Gibraltar Gardens and Norwich Crown Court appointed a liquidator and published a state of affairs document, showing how much money it owes.

The figures are eye-watering and open up many questions about how the company collapsed.

Cafe Britannia vehicles parked behind the Fiveways pub in Earlham last week. Photo: ArchantCafe Britannia vehicles parked behind the Fiveways pub in Earlham last week. Photo: Archant

It has assets of just over £9,000 but owes almost £630,000.

How did it rack up such large debts when it had so few assets to borrow against?

At what point did its directors realise it was never going to be able to pay back the hundreds of thousands of pounds owed to other businesses?

We have sent a series of questions to the CIC’s director, Davina Tanner and the company’s liquidator, Stewart Bennett, but they refused to answer.

Cafe Britannia food van at Waterloo Park. Picture: Cafe BritanniaCafe Britannia food van at Waterloo Park. Picture: Cafe Britannia

The CIC, which is run as part-profit, part-charity was facing problems before it went into liquidation.

Police are investigating an alleged fraud at the company dating back to 2018 and have interviewed one man in his 60s.

But in its last accounts, for 2017, Britannia Enterprises owed £91,000 to trade creditors; less than two years later that figure has tripled to £270,000.

Meanwhile the assets of the company have collapsed since 2017 from £357,000 to £9,000.

Café Britannia at HMP Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCafé Britannia at HMP Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In its last accounts its assets included £244,000 in investments and £83,000 worth of vehicles.

One of Ms Tanner’s companies, called Moody Deals Ltd, runs the Fiveways pub, which would explain why the Café Britannia food truck is there, but what has happened to the rest of the company’s assets? That question was not answered.

Ms Tanner said in August that it was her intention to pay suppliers back, but the liquidator’s documents show this will not be possible.

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We also asked Ms Tanner why such large amounts were owed to individual businesses.

Two of its biggest creditors, owed almost £42,000 and £45,000, are finance leasing firms who fund vehicles and equipment, called Academy Leasing Limited and Credo Asset Finance.

More than £90,000 is also owed to one of Ms Tanner’s companies Brand Strategy Partners Ltd.

It lists its function as “management consultancy activities”. We asked why this company was hired by the CIC and what work it did? Again no response was given.

Another £90,000 is owed to HMP Norwich, where Café Britannia was based. We asked how long has this amount had accrued over and what exactly it was for? No answer.

Employees are also owed £65,000, directors are owed £45,000, while the taxman has lost out by £40,000.

Another £16,000 is owed to Norwich City Council.

The biggest losers are other businesses which were hired by the CIC.

But speaking in August, when the closure of the café was announced, Ms Tanner said she was the “biggest loser” from the collapse.

“I stupidly invested my own money into this and I’ve had to make my peace with the fact I’m not getting it back,” she said at the time.

She also said she had not taken a salary from the company for two years.

Ms Tanner has an OBE for her work rehabilitating prisoners at Café Britannia.

She also has a long track record in business, including as manager at Chapelfield shopping centre, but this is the third business she has been a director of which has gone into insolvency.

The most recent one was last year, called D T Properties Great Yarmouth Ltd.

While The Park Britannia at Waterloo Park has now been taken over by a sole trader, the other outlets have shut with the loss of around 50 jobs.

However the Café Britannia name could still live on.

Several other companies with its name are registered on Companies House as still being active including, Britannia Holdings Norwich and Café Britannia Limited.

Man admits careless driving after crashing into horsebox on A14 at Rougham

16 November, 2019 – 06:00

The lorry collided with the horsebox on the A14 Picture: NSRAPT

The lorry collided with the horsebox on the A14 Picture: NSRAPT

NSRAPT

A lorry driver has admitted careless driving after crashing into a broken down horsebox on the A14 and injuring a horse.

The crash happened on the A14 at Rougham in March Picture: NSRAPTThe crash happened on the A14 at Rougham in March Picture: NSRAPT

Danny Sanders was charged with driving without due care and attention following the incident on March 29 on the A14 between junctions 46 and 45 at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.

Magistrates in Ipswich heard how Sanders, of Grosvenor Road, Lowestoft, was driving his DAF Truck on the westbound carriageway around 2.50pm when he failed to spot the broken down horsebox and crashed into the back of the vehicle.

The horsebox, which had been on the carriageway for some time and was displaying its hazard warning lights, contained a horse and the animal suffered injuries as a result of the crash.

Extensive damage was also caused to the horsebox and Sanders’ truck left the carriageway and ended up in a ditch, Suffolk Magistrates’ Court heard.

The horse’s injuries were not believed to be serious and no-one else was hurt in the incident.

The carriageway was closed for several hours while emergency services dealt with the incident at the scene.

Sanders, who did not appear before magistrates, pleaded guilty by post and a statement from him was read in court.

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The 41-year-old said he “regretted” the accident and “wished he had pressed the brakes earlier”.

Magistrates adjourned sentence until January 29 at Triton House in Bury St Edmunds.

MORE: Lane closed on A14 after lorry collides with horsebox

Statistics from the British Horse Society revealed that 3,737 road accidents involving horses were reported between November 2010 and March 2019.

A total of 315 horses have been killed as well as 43 people, according to the figures.

But the equestrian charity says that only one in 10 incidents are being reported.

The charity says it continues to campaign to raise awareness of the threats that riders and carriage drivers face.

In April, racehorse Rockwood was killed after a race when it was being transported home on the A15 at Waddingham, near Lincoln.

The head-on collision near Caenby Corner caused the horsebox to flipped on to its side.

The driver, Graeme Scantlebury, and Rocky’s trainer, Karen McLintock, were unharmed in the crash but Rockwood died at the scene.