Principle wins contract to look after luxury apartments in Sutton Coldfield

A highly desirable development of luxury apartments in Sutton Coldfield is to be looked after by Principle Estate Management.

Roman Place contains 13 apartments in Burnett Road in the much sought-after Streetly village, just off Thornhill Road and adjacent to the famous Sutton Park.

Principle was appointed after the directors of the Roman Place residents’ management company began to feel that their previous managing agent had become far too big and impersonal and was unsuited to a small development like theirs.

Malcolm Crossman, a retired civil engineer and a director of Roman Place, said: “We were becoming increasingly frustrated at delays in actioning relatively straightforward matters, particularly financial reimbursements. This was compounded by the frequent changes to personnel making it difficult to forge meaningful working relationships with some areas of the organisation.

“We have a good relationship with many of our contractors who are generally running small businesses. It was, therefore important to the directors that those relationships were maintained and potentially enhanced by, among other things, making sure that contractors were paid promptly and efficiently.”

Roman Place was built around 2000 by Crosby Homes, and Mr Crossman is one of four directors of the residents’ management company.

He added: “We are very hands-on and selected Principle as we knew we could have a good relationship with the directors.”

Brett Williams, managing director at Principle, said: “It’s great to have resident management companies in our portfolio as the directors sit as both our clients and our customers in direct receipt of the service we provide.

“It keeps us in touch with what really matters to residents in buildings that we manage.

“Our role is to help directors who normally don’t have a property background and to ensure the building is properly managed, so they don’t need to worry about things.

“A lot of what we do is quite invisible when it’s done well. In its simplest, we collect money from the apartment owners and pay it to suppliers; but a lot of hard work happens in-between the start and finish of the process.”

Mr Williams added: “It’s important to keep our resident management company directors up to date on all action points and that’s what we’ve set out to do at Principle.”

Principle Estate Management was launched last year by Mr Williams, the former head of residential property management at CPBigwood in Birmingham and an experienced chartered surveyor.

The company is based at Cornwall House in Lionel Street, Birmingham, and offers a national property management service.

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For further information please contact:

Brett Williams, Principle Estate Management LLP, Cornwall House, Lionel Street, Birmingham B3 1AP

Tel: 07954 078711 / 0121 289 4315


Editors’ notes:

Principle is a customer-focused managing agent providing a transparent property management service to the highest standards nationwide. Principle Estate Management is a new venture based in Birmingham and led by experienced chartered surveyors. The business was born out of a passion for “doing it right” through a director-led, friendly approach combined with robust systems that maximize efficiency. Principle Estate Management provides a service that we believe sets the aspirational standard for other agents. We manage modern apartment buildings, traditional blocks of flats, mixed use developments, private housing estates and private rented sector (PRS) or build to rent (BTR) developments as well as portfolios of rented properties for residential or commercial landlords.

Families should seek advice before paying huge bills for relatives’ care

Thursfields Solicitors has issued crucial advice for families facing huge top-up bills towards the costs of their loved ones who are so ill that they need residential care.

The guidance comes after it was revealed that a pensioner’s personal savings were running out because she was having to pay £550 a week towards the residential care of her husband, who suffers from severe dementia.

The story was just one in a BBC report which says the current council-run and means-tested system is a “fundamental source of unfairness” that leaves many people without the social care support they desperately need.

Tracy Ashby, a senior associate solicitor at Thursfields, is an expert in care funding, safeguarding individuals and Court of Protection applications, and is a full member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

She said: “There’s often a lack of advice given to people in such stressful and upsetting situations.

“In this case, it could well be that the wife shouldn’t have been forced into such large top-ups, as it’s clearly having such a personal detrimental effect on her.”

Ms Ashby explained that local authorities have certain statutory obligations and responsibilities as outlined in the Care Act 2014, and that these are supposed to be based on person-centred considerations, rather than just financial circumstances.

“The additional payment must always be optional and never as a result of commissioning failures leading to a lack of choice,” she said.

“That means top-up fees shouldn’t be a standard request, but they often are because local authorities are regularly focused on finance first, care second. Unfortunately, this can happen because advice isn’t given or obtained when a relative is entering care.”

Ms Ashby urged people facing a situation where their loved ones need residential care to always seek professional legal advice to make sure they are treated fairly by the system.

She added: “The UK’s social care system is in disarray, as evidenced by the fact that the Green Paper on this subject due out before the summer recess has now been delayed to coincide with the NHS proposals in the Autumn.

“At this time of chaos, people need a trained solicitor who can outline what the rules actually are, what help is available and whether the NHS should contribute.

“Importantly, a solicitor trained in the complex detail of care costs can explain what to do if the local authority refuses to work with the family and help at a time when a dispute could cause further detriment to the person in care.

“Funds are limited but this shouldn’t mean that people should suffer, nor that self-funders should prop up the failing system.”

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For further information, please contact:

Dani James, Business Development Manager, Thursfields Solicitors
Email: Tel: 01905 677066

Steve Dyson, ASAP PR – 01789 490786, Twitter – @Thursfields, LinkedIn –

Notes to Editors
Thursfields Solicitors is one of the region’s longest established and reputable law firms, with more than 150 staff in eight offices across Worcestershire and the West Midlands. Thursfields Solicitors provides a full range of legal services to business and the private individual, including property, family, employment and commercial law as well as probate and litigation. The firm has offices in Worcester, Kidderminster, Halesowen, Sedgley, Stourport-on-Severn, Solihull and Birmingham.

City bar and restaurant changes hands with help from Thursfields Solicitors

Thursfields Solicitors has helped a prominent Worcester bar and restaurant achieve a seamless transition to new ownership.

The Worcester office of the regional law firm has helped Catering Group (Midlands) Ltd, owned by Louise and Nicholas Fenton, acquire Primo Bar and Dining from the Cokaj family that founded the popular venue in February 2016.

The couple already own and run Bromsgrove-based Fire Safe Services Ltd and have already diversified into property, opening two luxury apartments for short term rental in Worcester under the trading name Boutique Suites last year.

And now the team at Thursfields has helped them expand their business interests into the bar and restaurant marketplace.

Louise Fenton said: “With Primo being offered on the market, we saw that there was an opportunity to take on a successful local business, and with Thursfields’ help we have been able to achieve a seamless transition into new ownership.

“We have retained the existing staff and will in time look to develop the business and our product offering with a view to making Primo Bar and Dining even more successful.”

There are plans to expand the scope and offering at Primo during 2019 and Mrs Fenton said they were already actively recruiting keen and enthusiastic team members.

She added: “Our business Fire Safe Services has been established for more than 15 years and has a good management team in place, and this has given us the scope to step to one side and look for further business opportunities.”

And she praised the team at Thursfields for achieving completion in just six weeks, against a provisional estimate by her former legal advisers of at least three months.

She said: “Collectively Thursfields did an amazing job. Individually, the team members exceeded all expectations and I have never worked with such professional lawyers before. This enabled us to complete on the timescale we wanted and an early completion to take advantage of the late Christmas trading period has been of significant commercial value to the project as a whole.”

The Thursfields’ team was led by corporate senior associate Tim Edwards, who was assisted by colleagues Lisa Kemp, who advised on employment matters, and Stewart Coles who advised on the property aspects and the assignment of the lease to Catering Group (Midlands) Ltd.

Tim Edwards said: “Primo Bar and Dining is a vibrant cocktail bar and restaurant offering seasonal English cuisine which has proven to be a very successful formula.

“It is located at 55 Sidbury in Worcester and is therefore well placed to take advantage of the recently redeveloped Cathedral Plaza retail mall which is something of a shopping magnet in this part of the city.”

Kate Walton of agents Hallmarks acted for the sellers.

Pic cap – Lisa Kemp, Stewart Coles, Tim Edwards of Thursfields Solicitors with Louise Fenton of Primo Bar and Dining

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For further information, please contact:

Dani James, Business Development Manager, Thursfields Solicitors
Email: Tel: 01905 677066

Major new UK floor covering distributor Likewise has roots in the West Midlands

Two former Headlam directors have teamed up with Birmingham investor Paul Bassi to launch a new UK floor coverings distributor, Likewise Group plc.

Likewise Group plc is the brainchild of Coleshill-based Headlam former directors Tony Brewer and Andrew Simpson.

The Likewise board includes Tony Brewer, chief executive officer, non-executive chairman Paul Bassi, chief financial officer Roy Povey and non-executive director Andrew Simpson. They will be supported by an executive board and an advisory board.

The business has been listed on The International Stock Exchange in Guernsey, raising £7 million which it intends to use for future acquisitions in the sector. Based on the issue price of the shares, Likewise has a market capitalisation of £12 million.

Prior to the listing, Likewise had acquired the entire share capital of William Armes Ltd and the trade and assets of Bruce Starke & Co Ltd which have been fully integrated into the group.

CEO Tony Brewer said: “We are very pleased to have listed on TISE. We already have a team with huge experience in the UK and European floor coverings market and worldwide manufacturer relationships, as well as two existing distribution centres.

“The benefit of £7 million cash raised and potential access to further funds puts us in a very strong position to be able to make further acquisitions which will enable us to consolidate the distribution section of the floor coverings market to gain national scale.

“Ultimately, we believe that this puts us in a position to expand Likewise into a meaningful flooring business.”

Financial advisers to the transaction are Zeus Capital.

John Goold, CEO of Zeus Capital, said: “Having worked with Tony for 20 years and seen him create significant value for his investors, we are very excited about helping him and his team at the start of their next journey.”

For the listing, UK counsel to the company is Gateley, Guernsey counsel is Carey Olsen, auditors and reporting accountants are Crowe UK, registrars are Link Market Services, the bankers are Barclays and the listing sponsor and market maker is Ravenscroft.

Jon Ravenscroft, group chief executive officer at Ravenscroft, said: “It has been fantastic for Ravenscroft to have been able to work with the team at Likewise, as well as Zeus and the other advisers, to obtain the listing on TISE and raise the finance for the future development of their business.

Empty property premiums of up to 300% could focus minds on auctions

An increasing number of West Midlands local authorities charging Council Tax “empty property premiums” of up to 300% could focus minds on quick sales by auction, Bond Wolfe Auctions has predicted.
Gurpreet Bassi, chief executive of Bond Wolfe Auctions, was speaking after Birmingham, Walsall and Solihull councils all started to take advantage of new laws which will enable them to increase the premiums.

Councils can already charge up to 50% Council Tax premiums on empty properties, but this increases to 100% from April, with 200% premiums for those empty for more than five years 12 months later, and 300% for those empty for more than a decade from April 2021.

The potential premiums will be considered by Birmingham City Council this week, while Walsall Council has already decided to apply the premiums and Solihull Council is drawing up plans in the next few weeks.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: “Empty properties attract all sorts of problems including vandalism, squatters, drug dealers – you name it, we get it. This new empty property premium is for people who blatantly leave properties empty. We are not going to stand for it anymore.”

Mr Bassi said: “There are thousands of empty homes across the Midlands which need to be refurbished into a rentable condition or sold to investors for development.
“The Council Tax premiums that can be applied from April will focus people’s minds if they have an unoccupied property, as the current rate will immediately double and in some cases – when this encourages landlords to sell – they might consider auctions as the quickest route to sale.

“For those considering this, it should be understood that an auction sale isn’t the last resort, but is often the best way to achieve market value with the comfort of speed and security.”

Mr Bassi explained that there were often several barriers stopping people from selling empty properties, sometimes emotional or factual, but that they could be overcome.

He said: “When it’s a death, divorce, mental or physical health that’s created an empty home, a family through no fault of their own might eventually face new tax premiums on top of what are already extra costs – such as expensive care home fees, probate and funeral costs, or perhaps maintenance payments.

“This can be a really stressful time for potential vendors, and this is when the team at Bond Wolfe Auctions with over 200 years combined experience can help by guiding someone through the sale of a property which is unoccupied, which may be for a variety of reasons.

“For example, we can explain that with an auction the property doesn’t need to be empty of its contents. And it can be sold as seen, regardless of its condition. We can also help with missing deeds or if the property is unregistered.”

Bond Wolfe Auctions still has space at its opening auction of 2019 on Wednesday 13 March at Villa Park for anyone who wants to beat the new Council Tax premiums.

Mr Bassi added: “Our first auction is attracting a lot of attention and it will be ideally timed for anyone wanting a quick sale of an empty property.”

To view a selection of the properties already lined up for Wednesday 13 March, go to – or to offer your property please call 0121 312 1212.