COUNCIL leaders have pulled out of talks with a company that claimed it would deliver £150m of housing in Liverpool.
The council said it had no plans to progress dealings with Fringe Regeneration Ltd, which late last year declared it could build 1,500 houses on several sites including Wavertree, Garston, Croxteth, Kirkdale and Norris Green.
It is the second time in recent months that a private firm has come forward with a multi-million pound pledge to develop “social housing” only to fall at the first hurdle.
A Post investigation has revealed Fringe Regeneration’s origins can be traced back to a businessman named in a court trial as being involved in the orchestration of a £40m VAT fraud. It led to four people being jailed in 2005 for more than 20 years between them.
Yorkshire businessman John Andrew Shaw set up the company – registered in Liverpool – under its original name, Fringe Developments, in November 2010. On July 23, 2012, Mr Shaw, 58, resigned as the sole director of the firm and was replaced on the same day by Chris Halbard, a former senior figure at BT Global Services.
Our attempts to contact Mr Shaw, now believed to be living in Ireland, have been unsuccessful.
The Post twice asked lawyers acting for Fringe Regeneration if Mr Shaw was involved at the time of the first approaches to the city council’s London business embassy, but they would say only that he is “not connected with or involved with Fringe Regeneration and has had no dealings whatsoever” with the proposed scheme.
They did not respond directly when asked if Mr Shaw had had any involvement with the company since July 23 last year and whether Mr Halbard had any involvement before then.
Fringe Regeneration contacted the council through its London embassy before having meetings with regeneration officers arranged through Frank McKenna, chief executive of lobby group Downtown Liverpool in Business (DLIB). His recollection is that the company’s initial approach to the Embassy was well before July last year.