Friday, 15 March 2013

Bryn Alyn Community Limited

Bunnykins Day Nursery in Pont-Y-Capel Lane, Gresford, Wrexham

This business was operated on the property of Mr Kenneth John White. Bryn Alyn Hall, a substantial property in Llay New Road on the outskirts of Wrexham, with 50 acres of land.

I couldn't work out how the hell Kenneth White had managed to get his hands on Bryn Alyn Community property, as it was all supposed to be sold off towards the compensation pot for the victims first time around, so I decided to do some digging into the Company background.

John Allen had acquired the property in 1968 with a lease for 21 years  and, although he had had no formal training of any kind, he had opened Bryn Alyn Hall as a children's home for up to 20 boys in the age range of 11 to 16 years. He had started with three boys from north east England and one from Liverpool and had circulated a booklet about his project to most of the local authority children's departments in England and Wales.

Bryn Alyn Hall
The main house was enlarged and divided after the freehold had been acquired and an additional residential establishment was built near the house. The three parts of the property were then called Askew House, Blackley House and Lindisfarne.
From 1968 until he retired in 1990, ostensibly on health grounds, Allen was, at least nominally, in charge of the affairs of the Bryn Alyn Community, including care issues, although it was said by one witness specifically that he had divested himself of day to day control by the mid-1980s.
The private limited company, Bryn Alyn Community Ltd, was formed in 1972, on the advice of accountants, and it appears that Allen remained chief executive until 1990.
The freehold of Bryn Alyn Hall was purchased with the aid of a mortgage when the company was formed. Norma Allen, his wife, occupied the post of Matron until late in the 1970s.
The Allens had lived early on in their marriage in a bungalow three miles from Bryn Alyn Hall and later spent a period at Bryntirion Hall before moving into Gwastad Hall with Allen senior and Askew.

Pentre Saeson Hall
This smaller country house at Bwlchgwyn, near Wrexham, was acquired in 1970 and opened on 27 September that year as a children's home for children younger then those at Bryn Alyn Hall. The provision was intended to be for up to 20 boys between the ages of 11 and 13 years.
However, Pentre Saeson Hall, valued at £150,000, was transferred to White senior in lieu of a three year pension on 2 February 1995.

Bryntirion Hall
This house in Mold Road, Caergwrle, was purchased by Allen in 1972 in trust for the Community and was intended to provide hostel accommodation for 15 working boys between 16 and 18 years.

Cotsbrook Hall
Cotsbrook Hall, Shifnal, Telford was one of two, properties bought by John Allen for the Community, outside North Wales. It was purchased with the intention that it should be a similar school to Bryn Alyn Hall, catering for 20 (later 40) children, again in the age range 11 to 16 years.

Gwastad Hall
Kenneth Henry White (White senior) became involved in the affairs of the Community after selling his hotel to the company for £130,000 on 11 July 1977.
He had run the large house at Cefn-y-Bedd, near Wrexham, as White Sands Hotel in the 1970s but it reverted to its former name of Gwastad Hall after acquisition by the Community and it was used principally as offices but also to provide accommodation for some children and the Allen family.

Gatewen Hall
This is in Berse Road, New Broughton, Wrexham, and had been a residential school prior to its purchase by the Community in or about 1982. It was opened on 1 April 1983 as a children's home to provide for 14 boys and girls in the age range of 14 to 18 years with a view to preparing them for independence.

There were several more properties in and around Wrexham used as half way houses and a Film Studio he established at Poyser Street.

Bryn Alyn Community also owned another property outside North Wales, Marton's Camp in Bunbury.

In or about 1980 White senior invested £300,000 in the company in return for a salary and an income on his investment. It seems that in November 1983 he accepted appointment as chief executive of the company but it is unlikely that this took effect because on 1 April 1984 he was appointed Business Administrator of the company for a period of five years at a salary of approximately £13,000.
Then, on 14 August 1984, he was appointed finance director, his employment and salary continuing; and 2,000 shares were allocated to him in return for a payment of £3,000 and a loan to the company of £20,000.
White senior made a number of subsequent loans to the company (mostly secured on the company's properties) and substantially increased his shareholding at the expense of Allen. By February 1990 his secured loans to the company amounted to £356,000 and there was also an unsecured loan to Allen himself of £20,000. Further transfers of shares followed and on 16 October 1991 Allen was "paid off", to use White senior's words.

 Kenneth J White (White junior), the son of White senior, assumed an increasingly prominent role from the early 1990s and he remained active in the affairs of Bryn Alyn (Holdings) Ltd. He became a shareholder (500 shares) in Bryn Alyn Community Ltd, when new shares were issued in 1991, and then joined the board.
Similarly, Stephen J Elliott became a shareholder at the same time as White junior and subsequently a director for a short period before moving on to run Prospects, the successor of Bersham Hall.
He had been a co-ordinator of child care at Blackley before undertaking a university degree course, after which he became part of the Community's senior management on the child care side. Prospects for Young People now operate from Pentre Saeson Hall, although at this time I have been unable to locate a bill of sale for the property from either of the White's.
The company secretary for many years was David Russell Evans. He acted also as personnel officer and was director of administration from about 1987, succeeding Frederick Streetly, formerly a probation officer in Liverpool, who was the first holder of the latter position from 1982.

By October 1991 Allen was indebted to the company in the sum of about £210,000 on his director's loan account.
The agreement made with him was that he should receive the equivalent of £510,000 for his remaining 13,695 shares in the company, which were to be cancelled, and that an additional payment of £50,000 was to be made to him and his wife as compensation for loss of office.
Of the £510,000, about £210,000 was to be in cash and was to be used to repay his loan account.
The balance of £300,000 was represented by the release of a company car (£10,000) and of the company's interest in a Brighton property, a French villa and a boat (£200,000), similar release of the company's interest in a cottage in Gloucestershire (£80,000) and the transfer of the company's 100 per cent shareholding in Bryn Alyn Care Ltd (£10,000), which had been a subsidiary of the company for only seven weeks or so, that is, from 25 August 1991.
There was a separate transaction also immediately before this in which Allen transferred 1,300 shares in the company to White senior. The price ultimately agreed for the latter shares was £26,000 but this probably took into account Allen's personal indebtedness to White senior.
Bryn Alyn Community Ltd continued to trade thereafter with White senior holding 17,995 of the 19,405 issued shares (including 3,100 new shares issued on 16 October 1991).
There were protracted discussions with the banks in relation to their security for loans and about re-structuring the company. Eventually, in 1995, re-structuring was effected: the various properties were transferred to a new company, Bryn Alyn (Holdings) Ltd, whilst Bryn Alyn Community Ltd became the trading company, carrying on the care and educational activities.


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