THE company which holds the lease to the Oasis Leisure Centre has said promises to pay debts were broken when they sold a shell company which went bust earlier this year, owing thousands of pounds to local companies.
It has emerged that Oasis Leisure Limited went bankrupt, having changed its name to MW Contract Services after Moirai, who are the leaseholders of the centre sold it, owing more than £850,000.
Much of this money was to local companies which have now been left out of pocket.
A statement from the Moirai board of directors says that when they sold the company for £1 in March 2012, they were told the debts would be settled.
Swindon Council’s Labour group has called for an investigation into the process leading to Moirai being given the deal, something the company has said it would cooperate with.
The statment read: “Oasis Operations Limited was sold at arm’s length to a third party under commercial terms.
“It’s been extremely unfortunate that the promises made by MW Contract Services to settle the outstanding creditors have not been met. We are happy to assist Swindon Council with any investigations relating to this matter.”
When it was given the contract, Moirai said it would refurbish the Oasis, which is now being run on a day-to-day basis by national operator GLL, as well as build an indoor ski slope and indoor arena.
Both of these have been delayed – work on the gym and reception have been completed but the directors say the work is moving forward following successful talks with leisure operators.
“Moirai Capital Investments has secured the long term future of the Oasis Leisure Centre through considerable level of investment on refurbishment works to the centre and by contracting long term operator GLL,” Moirai said.
“The North Star master plan is progressing well with a planning application being prepared for submission and we have secured interest from a number of national leisure operators to the scheme.
“Further to this we have signed heads of terms in place for the indoor ski centre and extreme sport centre facilities. The project is progressing in the right direction and we are confident the residents of Swindon will support our views and vision when they attend the second public consultation.”
Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) has said that he is willing to have an investigation into the deal, but has cautioned against scaring off private investors.
He said: “We have nothing to hide so I see no reason why we cannot look into the deal but I feel it will be simply going over old ground.
“However, Moirai are a private company and I think the council has to be careful on how much it interferes. There are some parts of the development which have not progressed as quickly as we would have liked but I think we can give a degree of leeway.
“My big concern is that if we constantly hold investigations into private companies then we will scare away much needed investment at a time when the public sector is short on money. Labour are in danger of depriving Swindon of millions of pounds of investment for political gain.”
Coun Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington and West), who initially made the call for the investigation, said: “We are still trying to fully understand the complex web of companies that the Moirai group set up to work at the Oasis.
“What I can say is that MW Contract Services Ltd company went bust owing thousands to local companies, and it certainly does not inspire confidence in the Moirai group to deliver on the plans that they have for the Oasis. We want to determine if the council was thorough in the due diligence it carried out to ensure that Moirai were a reputable partner.”