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GMB Union demands answers over unfiled accounts at Barking and Dagenham Council's regeneration firm Be First

PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 15 March 2019

Left to right:  Cllr Darren Rodwell, Sasha Shapiro, managing director of Media Content Capital, Dana Arnold, chief executive officer of Pacifica Ventures and Pat Hayes, MD of Be First on a visit to the site of a planned TV and film studio. Pic: Andrew Baker.

Left to right: Cllr Darren Rodwell, Sasha Shapiro, managing director of Media Content Capital, Dana Arnold, chief executive officer of Pacifica Ventures and Pat Hayes, MD of Be First on a visit to the site of a planned TV and film studio. Pic: Andrew Baker.

Andrew Baker

A trade union has warned public money may be at risk after the council's regeneration firm failed to file accounts.

Council leader Darren Rodwell with Be First's chief planner, Caroline Harper, by a mural in River Road. Picture: Andrew BakerCouncil leader Darren Rodwell with Be First's chief planner, Caroline Harper, by a mural in River Road. Picture: Andrew Baker

GMB London wants Barking and Dagenham to explain why the wholly council owned company Be First (Regeneration) Ltd is more than three months late filing financial records with Companies House.

Warren Kenny, GMB regional secretary, said: “We are concerned Be First has failed to file its accounts up to March 2018 despite having greenlit so many ambitious projects in the borough.

“It is time for Barking and Dagenham Council to explain what is going on. Public services are being cut back and council tax is rising so if the councillors at the top are mishandling public money on a project like Be First we need to know now.”

Be First – chaired by the former civil service head, Lord Bob Kerslake – was set up in February 2017 to boost the borough’s regeneration.

Left to right: Councillor Darren Rodwell, Jonathan Langham from Be First, Jonathan Carkeet of Berkeley Square Developments and Tony OBrien from Travelodge at another project spearheaded by Be First. Pic: Andrew BakerLeft to right: Councillor Darren Rodwell, Jonathan Langham from Be First, Jonathan Carkeet of Berkeley Square Developments and Tony OBrien from Travelodge at another project spearheaded by Be First. Pic: Andrew Baker

The company has plans including new film and TV studios in Dagenham and developments in Barking’s Gascoigne Estate.

The GMB’s call comes after Companies House wrote to Be First on January 22 warning directors that if they didn’t submit the accounts within two months the firm would be struck off the register and company dissolved.

A day later the threat to strike Be First off the register was removed.

A notice on Companies House’s website states ‘cause has been shown why [Be First] should not be struck off the register’.

However, Be First has still not published the accounts.

Mr Kenny said: “GMB would like to know what this ‘cause’ is and why it is not public knowledge.”

A council spokesman said: “Be First (Regenerated) Ltd started trading on October 1, 2017. Its first financial year covers the period October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. Under Companies House regulations, the first set of Accounts were required to be filed post audit, on November 23, 2018.

“The company was unable to meet this deadline due to delays in the external audit process which took longer than normal as this was the first year of operation.

“This delay was discussed with Companies House, however, they started their normal procedural process for audit delay.

“There is no question of public funds being misused.”

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