TRADING standards officers are investigating after a Sheffield charity was left thousands of pounds out of pocket when a city firm was paid to build new premises and did not carry out the work.
The city’s branch of Mencap, which offers advice and support to adults and young people with learning disabilities, is £5,100 down after paying for a new portable building at its Norfolk Lodge base.
Charity bosses handed over the sum to Custom Cabins, based on Kiveton Park Industrial Estate, last September.
The company asked for the cash after carrying out a site visit, saying payment was needed up-front as they were creating a custom-built area.
Delivery was promised for the next month but nothing arrived, and emails and calls to Custom Cabins have gone unanswered. They are no longer at their address.
The charity’s chief executive Janet Sullivan has reported the incident to police.
South Yorkshire Police have passed the case to Sheffield Council’s Trading Standards office.
Phil Glaves, Sheffield’s Trading Standards manager, said: “We received a complaint from the charity. We can see the company Custom Cabins has not filed any accounts and there is a proposal to strike the business off.”
Janet said: “We had to think very hard before committing such a large sum as our funds are very precious.
“Yet we felt the extra space was an essential purchase as our hard-worked staff have no space to have their lunch, or to have private meetings with families.
“To lose £5,000 is a huge blow to us at a time when some of our services face cuts due to the end of council contracts.
“I’ve taken it very hard personally.
“I have given Custom Cabins every opportunity to remedy the situation by either delivering our unit or refunding our money but neither has so far happened.”
Earlier this month Janet received a letter from Custom Cabins to say the company was due to change hands, giving the address of a Scunthorpe-based brokers.
But Mencap has been unable to speak to anyone involved with the case.
The Star has been unable to contact Custom Cabins or the brokers.
A spokesman for business Mista Box which neighboured Custom Cabins on the Kiveton Park Industrial Estate told The Star: “They moved a couple of months ago and left owing us rent money.
“I don’t know where they went.”