The future of failed battery factory start-up Britishvolt is hanging in the balance once again after it emerged that the firm’s would-be rescuer has failed to pay UK staff for the past four months.
Australian outfit Recharge Industries took over the outfit following its collapse earlier this year but the company has found itself embroiled in controversy ever since.
Back in June, Car Dealer reported that the firm’s offices had been raided as part of a tax investigation by Australian police.
Then, in August, we brought you the news that Recharge had still not made its final payment of £2.5m due as part of the takeover deal.
It has now been reported that amid ongoing financial uncertainty, Britishvolt staff have gone unpaid since July.
The BBC reports that more than half of the 26 staff members who stayed on following the company’s collapse have since left the outfit due to lack of payment.
Sources also told the broadcaster that Recharge has failed to meet pension commitments since the takeover and that staff have been locked out of computer systems, due to an IT contractor also going unpaid.
Owner David Collard has refused to comment on the claims but says the Aussie outfit is close to securing outside investment to keep Britishvolt afloat.
However, staff appear sceptical of his claims, with one describing them as ‘BS’.
Another added: ‘We’ve heard this time and time again since August.
‘He tells us there’s an investor waiting. But he can’t tell us who it is. It’s always the same story.’
The BBC also understands that there are now serious doubts at the top of Northumberland County Council about Collard’s credentials.
Speaking when the buy-out was agreed, Collard said he intended to keep the Britishvolt name to produce batteries for high-performance sports cars at a state-of-the-art gigafactory in Blyth.
He also said he was hoping to receive state funding for the project, but government interest in the project is said to have ‘cooled’ over recent months.
Following the latest news, administrator EY – which sorted the original sale to Recharge Industries – has defended its role in the takeover.
A spokesman for the outfit said the Aussie firm’s offer was ‘materially above the next best alternative, deliverable offer received by the joint administrators’.