Black clouds as music festival’s debts revealed

A LEES bakery, Mossley community arts company and Californian artists’ booking agency are among creditors owed money after the company responsible for staging Cotton Clouds music festival entered liquidation.In total, more than £135,000 is outstanding to unsecured creditors with Cotton Clouds Festival Ltd, run by brothers Rick and Max Lees plus entrepreneur Luke Stanley, only having estimated assets of £39,217.

Blackpool-based Ian Williamson was appointed liquidator in September while the company’s amount of debt has been revealed in documentation lodged at Companies House in October.

Cotton Clouds, nicknamed ‘party on the moors’, was hosted for the first time at Saddleworth Cricket Club – not on the creditors’ list – in 2017.

This year’s event, on August 16 and 17, was headlined by ex-Joy Division and New Order bassist, Peter Hook and legendary reggae artists, the Wailers.

Now the Wailers’ Beverly Hills-based agency APA are among individuals and businesses to lodge claims for unpaid debts.

Most of the creditors are based outside the area. But locally Arundel Bakery on Greenacres Road, Vale Mill based Global Grooves carnival arts project and GMP Saddleworth and Lees have been affected by the company’s financial plight.

For Global Grooves, this is a second major blow in 18 months following a fire at Ray Mill, Stalybridge that destroyed hundreds of thousands of pounds of giant puppets and handprinted costumes.

Chief executive Leon Patel said the impact of losing an amount similar to what they are listed as being owed can have a huge effect on companies such as his.

He told the Independent: “It’s often the assumption that setting up a festival will make money.

“There are small festivals that are successful and generate a profit. But there are two or three a year that go under and often it’s companies like ours that supply the artists that are hit the hardest.

“Things like losing a few thousand pounds can send them under as they still have to pay the wages of people working at all these events and it’s a real shame.

“It can take quite a long time for festivals and events to generate a profit, 10 years in many cases.”

There has been no public comment from any of the directors since news of the problems came to light in late September.The full list of unsecured creditors and monies owed are listed here:
GoToLive Ltd, Newcastle, Staffs (£16,066.50), Diplomats of Sound, Bristol (£1,530), APA Agency (USA), £17,500, Future Agency, Luton (£8,400), Agbeko, Manchester (£850), WME Agency, London (£250), This is Now Agency, Bristol (£1,200), The Fernweh Band Ltd, Liverpool, (£300), Llines (£300), VME Ltd, Knutsford (£10,592.75), Event Buddha , Ashley, Cheshire (£3,912), Practical Event Security, Manchester (£12,014.49), PPL PRS, Leicester (£5,133.91), GMP Saddleworth, Uppermill (£3,553.81), Arundel Bakery, Lees (£1,117.20), N4 Crew Ltd, Ripponden (£3,266.40), Big Fish Rentals Ltd (£1,701), SRG, Thornbury (£11,196), Event Trucking Service, Stretford (£2,880), Three Spires Acoustics Ltd (£1,440).

Jason McGuire, Rochdale (£550), Vridor Waste Management Ltd (£820.39), Sterling Event Group, Manchester (£872), GAP Event Services, Glasgow (£14,277.93), George Shaw & Sons, Linthwaite (£900), Wicked Event Water Services, Gainsborough (£714), Davis Track Hire, Retford (£444), Global Grooves, Mossley (£4,758), FTS Event Power Ltd, Leeds (£1,974.73), Wild Visual, Surrey (£1,548.00), Able Group, Leigh on Sea (£342), 2CL Communications, Eastleigh (£805).

Manchester Light and Stage, Manchester (£1,088.70), Luke Lewis Productions, Lincoln (£1,000), Sonic PR, Rochdale (£2,100), HM Revenue and Customs (£0.00), Jackson Brierley Harthan Accountants, Uppermill (£0.00).

Total creditors claim £135,299.01; balance at bank, £9,217, debtors £40,071 (estimated to realise £30,000), estimated total assets available for preferential creditors, £39,217, issued share capital £240, estimated total (deficiency) as regards members, £96,422.

However, liquidator Mr Williamson told the Independent: “There is a fair possibility creditors might get something back. In a case like this the process might take between eight to 12 months.”

And he offered hope there may still be a festival in 2020. “I suspect someone will pick up the rights to the name and Cotton Clouds will continue next summer. If they do, any money will go into the pot for the creditors.”

The festival has been a popular addition to Saddleworth’s annual attractions such as Whit Friday, Yanks and Rushcart.

In previous years, Sister Sledge, Lightening Seeds, Starsailor, the Choral, the Sugarhill Gang, Ash and Nick Heyward all graced the main stage.

But the festival has also championed the music of local artists and bands in its three-year run with the likes of Callow Youth, the Maitlands, Stereohaze, the Flatline and Dirty Laces getting an opportunity to rub shoulders with music legends.

This year’s event was dogged by bad weather on the opening Friday with the attendance reportedly down on the previous year.

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