Questions about Regus Kora

A number of people have been asking questions about Regus Kora, the company that has been working with Cambridgeshire County Council on the proposed Cambridge Library Enterprise Centre. After doing some further research, I have some questions too.

My questions concern Roger Perrin, who is described on this LinkedIn page as “Global Managing Director Regus Kora”. Although names of Kora staff have been redacted from the minutes of the meetings between Kora and Cambridgeshire County Council, it seems very likely that Mr Perrin is the “RP” referred to throughout the minutes. Here’s a sample extract, from the meeting of 16 September 2014:

From his LinkedIn page, we can see that Mr Perrin has been involved with a number of different companies during his career. Indeed, he has previous experience of similar projects – here is an article from the Cambridge News in 2009 in which he’s launching an “enterprise hub” called Start Cambridge. I didn’t remember hearing about this before, and it no longer seems to be operating, so I did a little research to see what had happened to it. During the course of this research, I turned up a number of interesting facts.

Firstly, there’s Start Operations Limited, of which Mr Perrin was a director. I say was, because as you can see from the company’s filing history at Companies House, the company was dissolved last year following a liquidation. From the Statement of affairs document filed on 9 February 2009, it seems that it owed its creditors around £1.5 million when it ceased trading.

Secondly, if you go to the Companies House Disqualified Directors Register and enter Mr Perrin’s name, it turns up this record (I’ve redacted Mr Perrin’s address and date of birth):

So it seems from this record that Mr Perrin is just over half way through an eight-year period of being disqualified from acting as a company director. If you click on the reason code, it explains that this is because of section 7 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. The explanatory notes say:

Sections 6 – 8: Disqualification for unfitness to act as company director –
6: Duty of court to disqualify unfit directors of insolvent companies.
7: The Secretary of State may accept a disqualification order where the conditions in section 6(1) are met and it appears to him to be expedient to do so in the public interest.
8: Disqualification after investigation of company, under companies and other legislation.

Company number 03215974, mentioned in the record, is (or rather was) Start Architecture Ltd, which was “dissolved via compulsory strike-off” last year – its filing history is here.

Naturally, this raises a number of questions about the Cambridge Library Enterprise Centre project:

  • Did Council officers know about Mr Perrin’s history when they decided to work with Kora on the CLEC project?
  • If did know, why didn’t they tell the councillors who were deciding whether the project should go ahead with Kora as a partner?
  • If they didn’t know, why not? The information is all on the public record – due diligence should have turned it up.

Cambridge people need to know the answers.

Update: The Cambridge News has an article about this here. As it says, the County Council has issued a statement:

“The highways and community infrastructure committee agreed in principle on Tuesday to approve the proposals for an enterprise centre. No signing of any contracts has yet taken place.

“In light of information that has come to our attention the council’s executive director for economy, transport and environment has following consultation with the committee chairman suspended further work on the project, pending consideration by the committee.”

Second update: I want to make it very clear that I am in no way suggesting that Mr Perrin has done anything illegal. My point is that councillors should have been aware of his background when making decisions about the project.

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17 Responses to Questions about Regus Kora

  1. geoffjones says:

    Well done! Perhaps you should submit a bill to the council for ‘research services” 🙂

  2. Fantastic work, Phil. As many people have said, it really shouldn’t be down to people like you to uncover this sort of information, but I’m so glad you’re doing it. Whether it’s through their lack of competence or lack of time, it illustrates yet again just how unqualified council officials and councillors are to be making decisions which could be ruinously expensive for public facilities and infrastructure. This city needs its brightest and best people to be steering its future, not overworked council officers and people playing buggins’s turn at standing for office in local political parties.

  3. Clare Burgess says:

    Thank you so much Phil for all of your efforts on our behalf. On Chris’ comment, it’s hard to believe that it was lack of time that prevented this due diligence on the part of council officers.

    If they had time to hold 37 meetings with Kora over a period of around 18 months, they had more than enough time to carry out these bare minimum checks.

  4. Allan brigham says:

    Great stuff. Thank you. Can we find a way to keep the Cambridge local studies section in Cambridge too – and staffed? What I do not understand is why the county us not using the amazing facilities it has in the library, including local history material, to reach out to the groups that it claims in its consultation document that it wants to engage with. Employing an education officer to reach out to these groups and to look for grants would seem an obvious way forward, and could well bring in revenue too?

    • Martyn Everett says:

      Absolutely right!
      It might also be right to ask why there is a lack of signs in the arcade directing people to the Library.

  5. geoffjones says:

    Just been reading the March 2006 accounts, the auditor’s qualified opinion is pretty staggering!

  6. Rachel Mariner says:

    Bravo! Thank you!

  7. As someone who works to prevent financial crime through businesses like banks and accountancy firms, I know that one of the most basic due diligence checks that these places do when dealing with corporate clients is ask these questions: is the person approaching you exactly who they say they are, and are they legally and contractually permitted to represent their firm in the capacity they claim? A check of the register of disqualified directors is Noddy, basic stuff. This just goes to show that the council should not have been engaging in this type of negotiation, as they are not equipped to do (or think of doing) the most basic due diligence checks. Thank heavens someone else did it for them (well, us).

    • Phil Rodgers says:

      I should stress that I am in no way suggesting that Mr Perrin has done anything illegal. My point is that councillors should have been aware of his background when making decisions about the project.

  8. Absolutely: the point is that people who are entrusted with spending public money should be aware of due diligence procedures – and checking whether someone they are proposing to deal with has been disqualified from acting as a director (which is not done lightly) is one of the most basic, simple, free things to check.

    • Colin Rosenstiel says:

      The most worrying aspect of this fiasco is that it casts further doubt on the County Council’s procurement capabilities. Think of the recent track record: Guided Bus and street lighting

      • I have submitted an FOI request asking for details of the contract management and procurement function in the council and in what way it was engaged on this project.
        When I was Head of IT at the council I employed a full time procurement and contract management professional solely for IT contracts. I suspect there are no true procurement professionals left.

  9. Sean Lang says:

    Isn’t the point that either the Council Officers did this basic checking themselves or they did not. If they didn’t, then why not? If they did, did they uncover the same information that Phil did? Assuming they would have done, then what did they do with that information? Was it communicated to the Committee or not? And if not, why not? Either way, the Officers have some very serious questions to answer.

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  12. Matthew Faupel says:

    Congratulations on today’s result!

  13. Pingback: Kora — kaput

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