1:40pm Monday 17th December 2012
THE boss of an auction house in Alresford that collapsed with debts of thousands of pounds has a new plan.
He wants to open an auction house in Winchester!
Charlie Evans ran Prospect Auction Rooms in Alresford that closed last month owing money to scores of people across Hampshire, including many pensioners.
Mr Evans said the receivers are due to soon go in to work out the extent of the debts. He has said he was not to blame for the collapse.
Mr Evans has submitted plans to Winchester City Council for a change of use of the Furniture Warehouse on Easton Lane, Winnall.
Mr Evans, who lists his full name on the application as Charles Barney-Evans, told the council: “The reason for leasing the building is due to expansion. I started the auction house in Prospect Road three years ago and I have outgrown the premises.”
He adds that he intends to employ 15 people, an increase on the ten at Alresford and take on a ten-year lease.
In his application to the council he says of his new proposal: “It is always better to see a thriving business than empty buildings.”
The building was being marketed for an annual rent of some £60,000. The Alresford base is believed to have cost £8,500 a year.
News that Mr Evans plans to start a new business while owing thousands of pounds has angered his creditors: “A thriving business? He’s having a laugh. He owes me hundreds of pounds,” said one victim, who asked not to be named.
Susanna Lyle, of Canon Street, Winchester, reckons she is owed £20,000 after Mr Evans sold the belongings of her mother’s home after her death. Items included a set of Waterford Glass, chipped but worth an estimated £12,000, according to Ms Lyle.
Mrs Lyle said: “He cleared the house and said ‘don’t worry’. He was plausible. This is part of the grandchildren’s inheritance. It is monstrous that people can do this. I’m really upset.
“My father was Maurice Jones, chairman of Hampshire County Council, who in World War Two was a Japanese prisoner of war. These possessions were from someone who did good for Hampshire; they end up with someone like him (Evans). You look at him and wonder what has he contributed?”
Another, owed around £700-800, who asked not to be named, said of the new plan: “I am not happy about that. It is going to be very difficult for him to start another auction business if he still owes a lot of money. We will do whatever we can to stop that.”
He added: “He cannot say what happened in Alresford is nothing to do with him. He cannot say ‘I’m not the person going into liquidation.’ Prospect was his business even though he calls himself the manager.”
The last two Fridays the warehouse in Prospect Road, Alresford, was opened between Noon and 2pm to allow people to retrieve unsold goods.
Although Mr Evans was not present, telling the Chronicle that he was too “unwell”, some staff did turn up to help around 30 former customers collect their property or find out how much they were owed.
Barbara Plant, of Sarum Road, Winchester, had nothing to collect but said she was owed around £1,200 for an assortment of household goods. She said: “I feel cheated really, and let down. When I found out I felt like a fool.
“I appreciate the fact that some staff have come in to help people out but an awful lot of my things have been sold and I have no money to show for it.”
Patrick Edworthy, 74, of Ropley, said he was owed around £300 for china that had been sold, and collected unsold silverware and china.
He said: “We have been treated very shabbily and even when the items were selling we had to remind them we were owed the money. Looking back I should have taken my things to a charity shop.”
Prospect Auction Rooms also ran a house clearance business, called C&G Clearance. The latter is run by Mr Evans with Gemma Sharp, who according to Mr Evans last week is the owner of the auction house. Mr Evans describes himself only as the “manager”.
Ms Sharp has been unavailable for comment.
Neither Companies House nor the Official Receiver, which has an office in Southampton, has any record of Prospect as it is not a limited company.
A Companies House spokeswoman said issues with ‘sole traders’ were handled by Trading Standards.
Mr Evans has, since the planning application was submitted on November 28, been unavailable to discuss his proposed new venture.
City council records show that he first discussed the plans for Winnall with Simon Finch, head of planning, in late September.
Hampshire Trading Standards has received complaints but would not confirm if it is investigating. The police said that at the moment it is a trading standards matter.
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