One of the key battleground seats in England is Derby North, where Tory candidate Amanda Solloway and Labour’s Chris Williamson are fighting to win a volatile and finely balances seat. Williamson won the seat for Labour in 2010 by 613 votes and Solloway in 2015 by a mere 41 votes.
When Ms Solloway was MP, she sat on the Business Select Committee as her husband ran a debt-resolution company that charged fees to struggling people – people struggling under the governing party that Ms Solloway represented – on the promise of eradicating their debts.
In spring 2016, the firm – Compass Debt Councillors – went bust, ruining the lives of over a thousand people, some of whom paid out thousands of pounds without clearing a single debt. One man, according to Derby News, went to the company for help with a mobile phone debt of £400 and lost £12,000.
This is not new information. It was reported by local and national press last year:
However, a group of local people have started a petition calling for a formal, public inquiry into the conduct and collapse of the company – and now the SKWAWKBOX can exclusively bring you comment from one of the victims of the company’s collapse and its alleged conduct.
‘Vivienne’, a woman who lost over £12,000 in the collapse, told this blog:
I contacted Solloway’s company because I was in trouble. My debts had gotten out of control and I was worried I would lose my house. But instead of helping me Solloway profited from my problems. When his business folded I became ill. I lost my job, I’ve lost my house, I’m living off disability benefits. Honestly it’s embarrassing, I should of known.
She went on:
Solloway paid himself and his mates millions in dividends, even when they knew the business was about to fail. Every penny of that money belongs to me and people like me. Every time I think about it I get so mad I start crying. My mental health is not good because of this.
Ms Solloway is not, of course, legally responsible for the alleged conduct of her husband – which included, as alleged by Derby News, payment of illegal dividends and exploitation of vulnerable people.
However, when the company folded she failed to condemn her husband’s company for its effect on the lives of so many people – or even, as far as the SKWAWKBOX can find, to offer sympathies to those whose lives it ruined.
Instead, she offered a self-protecting comment via the Conservative Party:
Amanda has never undertaken, in any capacity, any role in her husband’s business either unpaid, advisory or otherwise.
Mrs Solloway has said that she has visited the [her husband’s] office a handful of times. On behalf of Mr Solloway, there isn’t any further comment.
She did issue a personal statement some time later:
Whenever any business ends in this way it is always a very sad and emotional time for all involved. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected. I have never undertaken, in any capacity, any role in his business.
The victims, as you’d expect, were far from happy with this response and called on Ms Solloway to resign – which, of course, she did not do.
Hence the petition – and the calls of the victims who contacted the SKWAWKBOX for voters to turf Ms Solloway out of office next week.
Labour candidate Chris Williamson commented:
I’m shocked that anyone would want to profit from those already in financial hardship. Local people have been taken for a ride by these financial cowboys – something the Labour Party will clamp down on. That is why I fully support the call for Compass to face a public enquiry.
It is to be hoped that the people of Derby North will deliver a far more emphatic verdict at the ballot box than has been their habit of late and will return Mr Williamson to Parliament, where he served them well up to 2015 – and the SKWAWKBOX asks its readers to sign the petition and support the victims of Compass in their quest for justice.
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