City writes off £200,000 debt as Koren business goes to the wall

Karen Koren
Karen Koren
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More than £200,000 of taxpayer’s money is to be written off after the city council gave up on its attempts to pursue a leading Fringe promoter.

Karen Koren’s GB Productions Limited owes the money in unpaid bills dating back as far as January 2009 in relation to the time that her company operated Edinburgh’s Christmas ice rink in Princes Street Gardens.

It has now emerged that the company has been struck off the register of companies by Companies House because of its failure to file financial documents.

That has led to the company being dissolved and any assets have now become the property of the Crown.

However, it is understood that the firm has few assets, which has led to the council having to write off the amount it is owed.

Calls have now been made for the council to have no more dealings with any of Ms Koren’s companies that do continue to operate.

Labour councillor Eric Barry, who has raised a number of concerns with council officials about the debt, said: “It is a lot of money and it is a big concern that taxpayers are having to stump up.

“I think the council should be twice bitten three times shy. I do not think we should do any business with her unless we get money up front.

“This is mismanagement at the highest level of the council and we have to look at the procedures because they have been extremely casual about this money. I can understand it if a firm goes bust but the circumstances are different here.”

The debt owed to the council by GB Productions relates to six separate invoices between January 2009 and April 2010.

The council had been weighing up legal action to recover the money. However, now that GB Productions has been formally dissolved, the only means of doing that would be by the council restoring the company through a “restoration by court order”.

Such a legal action would be expensive and it is understood that council officials do not think they would be likely to get the money back because GB Productions has very few assets.

The move to dissolve GB Productions is not expected to affect the Gilded Balloon festival venue operation.

Councillor Gordon Munro, culture and leisure spokesman for the Labour group on the council, said: “I am surprised that such a cavalier approach to outstanding debts to the council has been taken, especially towards someone the council still deals with regarding other aspects of the city.”

A spokesman for Companies House said: “I can confirm that Companies House struck the company off for failure to file documents and due to no subsequent contact being made, which led us to believe the company was inactive.”

Companies House records show that Ms Koren remains a director of Gilded Balloon Futures Limited, Late ‘N’ Live Limited, GB Festivals Limited and Happyness Limited.

A city council spokeswoman said: “This issue will be addressed in a report that goes to the next finance and resources committee.”

Ms Koren was not available to comment.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com