Collapse of West Country housebuilder Cotswoldgate leads to calls for a change in company law

Cotswoldgate has become the latest housebuilder to fall victim to the credit crunch after going into administration last week.

The demise of the £13m turnover company, which has 23 sites in the west of England, prompted creditors to call for a change to the law that allows housebuilders and their financial backers to share the same company directors.

Cotswoldgate’s failure follows the fall into administration of Welsh housing developer Meadgate in March with debts of £36m. Both were backed by Aurelian Property Finance.

Meadgate’s assets were bought by River 7, a company with two directors also on the board of Aurelian. They are Martin Taylor and Jeffrey Taylor. Both individuals were also directors of Cotswoldgate, whose assets are now controlled by Aurelian. According to one subcontractor, Cotswoldgate has outstanding debts of £3m among 33 subcontractors.

In addition, Cotswoldgate managing director Richard Perrill was appointed to the board of River 7 on 26 March this year after the company was established on 17 September last year. Aurelian was unavailable for comment.

One subcontractor who is owed money expressed his anger at a system that he claimed allowed financial backers to write off debt liabilities when companies they fund go into administration and they take control of their assets.

He said: “It’s terrible, there ought to be a law against this sort of thing. How can it be that Richard Perrill, managing director of Cotswoldgate, is also on the board of River 7, which took over Meadgate?”

Cotswoldgate was struggling before the credit crunch took its toll. In the year to 30 April 2007, the company made a £689,000 loss on £13.3m turnover. In the previous year it made a loss of £1.5m on £10.9m turnover.

Steve Evans, managing director of £17m-turnover electrical installation group Clarkson Evans, said his company was owed £185,000. “Payments started to dry up last July. Now we are at a level of debt that is crippling us.”

Who's on which board

Martin Taylor, Jeffrey Taylor: Meadgate, Cotswoldgate, River 7 and Aurelian Property Finance

Richard Perrill: Cotswoldgate, River 7