A coach firm was left nearly £3,700 out of pocket for months after a charity run by a councillor failed to pay up for bus trips it hired them to put on.

Charity Grangetown Generations brought in Jacks Coaches to run five seaside day trips last summer at a cost of £3,694.

Paul Pearson, MD at Jacks, spent months trying to get the money from the charity, which Redcar Labour Councillor Adam Brook is chair of.

Although the account has now finally been settled, Mr Pearson said he feels "aggrieved" that it took so long to resolve.

He told The Northern Echo: “We had been doing work for Grangetown Generations since 2022. Last summer we provided some coaches to do some summer trips, two to Bridlington, two to Blackpool and one to Light Water Valley.

“I normally invoice before, but since we’d done work for them previously, I thought I’d be fine to invoice them after. The total amount was £3,694.

The Northern Echo: Paul Pearson of Jacks Coaches.Paul Pearson of Jacks Coaches. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

“I thought we wouldn’t have any problem with payment. Then I had to start chasing them up.

“I kept getting excuses and in one email they claimed someone had transferred the money into another account and the police were involved. They said they were trying to get access from the charity’s reserves and would pay me as soon as possible.

“The last I heard from them they said they said they were going to pay in the next few days. This was in November.”

Mr Pearson secured a county court judgement against the charity for the full amount plus costs of £205. Mr Brook claims he never received the court judgement, but has now settled the account anyway.

Mr Pearson said: “I felt particularly aggrieved by it because we’re a small business within Adam’s ward. His last post on Facebook was asking people to support a local business but it felt like he wasn’t supporting us.

“I wouldn’t normally give someone the amount of credit that I did, but with him being a councillor I thought I could trust him.

“The other thing is they have opened a second site while all this has been going on. They’ve clearly got the money somewhere.

“I don’t think I’ve been unreasonable at all”.

The Northern Echo: Paul Pearson of Jacks Coaches.Paul Pearson of Jacks Coaches. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

An email sent from Mr Brook’s Grangetown Generations email address in October seen by The Northern Echo, reads: “It has become clear that we have become victims of theft, where the invoice amounts have been paid out, but to other accounts” - and says the issue was reported to the police.

But after being contacted by The Northern Echo, Mr Brook denied any theft ever took place - saying the claim was “completely false” and police were never involved. He said that while the email address bears his name, it is the charity’s main email account and all emails automatically respond with his signature.

“We will be undertaking an internal investigation regarding this matter,” said the former Independent councillor, who crossed the floor to join Labour in 2022.

Mr Brook added: “I can completely understand Paul’s anger and upset, I was under the impression that this was being dealt with appropriately, in my absence as I focused on other commitments.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Adam Brook.Cllr Adam Brook. (Image: REDCAR & CLEVELAND COUNCIL)

“I am a strong supporter of local businesses and will always strive to promote and support in any way I can.

“The charity has been dealing with bank issues over this specific payment which went awry and it has taken some months to resolve this with the bank.

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“As the founder and leader of the charity I accept and take responsibility for a breakdown of communication and accept that my oversight in this matter could have been better and I do sincerely apologise for this.

"We have always used Jacks Coaches since our charity was established and have always received a 5 star service on all occasions, and always recommended them to partner organisations.

“There have been no ill intentions here and payment has been processed this week and paid.”

The money appeared in the coach firm’s account within 24 hours of The Northern Echo contacting Mr Brook for comment.