Halifax businessman urged to address claims made by investigation

Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian
Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian

A Halifax man has been urged to address concerns about his business affairs after an investigation was published on them.

Gavin Woodhouse, whose businesses included the former sponsor of the Shay stadium the MBi Group, and who is chairman of Northern Powerhouse Developments, based in Elland, is the subject of a joint investigation by ITV News and the Guardian newspaper, including over plans to build a £200m adventure resort in Wales.

Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian

Gavin Woodhouse. Photo: ITV News/Guardian

He has defended himself against claims made by the investigation, which claims to have identified “a series of concerns” about Mr Woodhouse.

The investigation claims that potential investors in the Afan Valley scheme were told by Mr Woodhouse that car maker Jaguar Land Rover and outdoor adventure company Go Ape are “partners” on the project, claims which both companies have disputed.

Now, Neath Port Talbot Council, where the resort would be built, wants Mr Woodhouse to address the concerns raised “as a matter of urgency”, according to the BBC.

The Guardian say Mr Woodhouse’s business interests include care homes, hotels, leisure facilities and student accommodation and he has been listed as a director 137 times with Companies House.

ITV and The Guardian quote Mr Woodhouse denying he owes money to the failed company, MBI, and that he has not been responsible for any MBI management decisions since he resigned as a director in January 2016.

The investigation claims he said he did not know how the company amassed such large debts since his departure.

In 2015, Calderdale Council agreed a £120,000 sponsorship deal with MBi Consulting to sponsor The Shay for three years.

Northern Powerhouse Developments denies any wrongdoing. They told ITV News and The Guardian: “Northern Powerhouse Developments is extremely disappointed with the investigation by the Guardian and ITV, which we believe is misleading and inaccurate.

“We remain committed to delivering the projects we have promised our investors, and we have repeatedly made this clear to both the Guardian and ITV.

“We have up to 600 investors, the vast majority of which have not voiced concerns.

“The allegations made by the Guardian and ITV concern a handful of disgruntled investors and do not reflect the view of investors in Northern Powerhouse Developments as a whole.

“The company operates a complex and unusual business model which we feel has not been accurately reflected by the Guardian and ITV.

“While we have been faced with a challenging economic environment, we are delivering 90% of the projects as per original agreements and we are working hard to resolve issues regarding the remaining 10%.

“The allegations that have been put to us are that we have tried to misdirect people. That is simply not true. We have always tried to maintain contact and communications with all investors.

“Northern Powerhouse Developments has informed the Guardian and ITV of the correct position and they have ignored us.

“We currently employ more than 600 members of staff and our transformational Afan Valley project will create a further 1,000 jobs.

“We encourage investors with concerns to contact us directly. We have always been transparent and this will continue going forward.”