Raw deal for Green Deal company

Brendan Ashford, Ben Webber and Karen Howson, the remaining staff at Ampere GDP on Pottington, which

Brendan Ashford, Ben Webber and Karen Howson, the remaining staff at Ampere GDP on Pottington, which is owed £50,700 after district council contractor Enact Energy went bust. - Credit: Archant

Barnstaple firm left owed £50,000 after North Devon Council’s energy efficiency scheme partner goes into administration.

A Barnstaple family business is fighting for its future after being left £50,000 out of pocket when the company running a North Devon Council-led green energy scheme went bust.

Ampere GDP at Pottington has laid off four of seven staff after not being paid for 530 of 900 home assessments it carried out as part of the Green Deal initiative through the council’s HEAT Project (Home Energy Action Taskforce).

It was sub-contracted by Enact Energy after the Cornish firm won the Green Deal contract from the council, which had £500,000 of government money to administer the scheme across North Devon, Torridge, Mendips and Teignbridge.

Enact went into administration less than two weeks ago, with the loss of 29 jobs and owing Ampere £50,700.

“It was a complete shock, because until 4pm that day they were asking us to do work. We had not been paid in advance and to date have received around £3,000,” said Brendan Ashford, Ampere’s director.

“This could seriously pose a threat to our business - I think it is only fair we are paid for the work we have done and the council should now allow us to continue the contract.”

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Jeremy Mann, head of environmental health and housing services at the council said they were sorry to hear Enact had gone into administration and the impact this has had on one local contractor.

“We hope to get the project back on track as soon as possible. In the meantime, households waiting for a booked assessment, or for their report to be returned, should contact their assigned contractor for guidance,” he added.

The council said about half of its funding had been paid to Enact, as approved by the government, in arrears, on the submission of invoices.

It caps a terrible time for Mr Ashford and his family, after his father David – who regularly helped out at the business – died suddenly from a heart attack a few weeks ago.

Mr Ashford believes North Devon Council should pay, as his company had provided the assessors for the scheme, which offers householders or businesses a free assessment to look at where they could add energy efficient products to their properties.

Mr Ashford believes the council should have considered whether Enact could handle the work, especially since Ampere was not even given the opportunity to bid.

The council said it had a working relationship with Enact Energy Renewables Ltd and its executive gave approval last year to continue joint working with it. No procurement process was required, as the council ‘was not and is not acquiring any form of goods, works or services’.

Administrator Ian Walker of Begbies Traynor told the Gazette they were seeking to sell Enact, with a deadline for final offers by the end of this week.

He said there was a great deal of interest and they hoped for a buyer, but it was impossible to say at this stage what that would mean for creditors.

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