Opposition Councillors demand answers over Arena firm's financial difficulties

CPBCBE
20 Aug 2023
Unfinished carpark by Buckingham Group

They were reacting to the news that Buckingham have announced that they are to cease trading and plan to appoint administrators, after failing to find a buyer for their business. The company has cited deep losses on major projects, including Swansea Arena as one of the reasons for their problems. However, the scale of the work still needing to be completed on Copr Bay has left opposition members concerned that Swansea Council will end up picking up the bill.

Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesperson, Peter Black, who also chairs the council's Scrutiny Programme Committee, said that officers need to give more detailed assurances about the cost of the remaining remediation work, how robust the contract with Buckingham is and what legal remedies are available if they do go into administration, who will carry out the remaining remedial work if Buckingham or their administrators are unable to do so and who will pay for it, and whether this will delay further the opening of the multi-storey car park opposite the Arena.

'My understanding is that fixing the issues with the paintwork coating system applied to the steel in the car park is actually very expensive,' Councillor Black said. 'In the likelihood that Buckingham do go into administration that will prove to be a significant liability, which any purchaser will be reluctant to take on, assuming that anybody can be found to carry on the business. It then comes down to whether there are sufficient assets to cover the cost of this work, in addition to any liabilities on other projects the company is responsible for.

'Our concern is that Swansea taxpayers will be left paying for this work, or at the very least the council will be dragged into expensive litigation that will delay the opening of the car park well beyond the advertised date. The council may be seeking to downplay these risks, but they are very real. The collapse of Dawnus Construction added to the cost of the Kingsway redevelopment and that is likely to happen here as well.

'Officers need to brief councillors in detail on the impact of this insolvency and the risks to taxpayers.'