Chatteris businessman promises work on a campervan for a disabled couple will be finished in six weeks
PUBLISHED: 17:17 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 February 2017
A man who pledged to open a half million pound children’s play centre in Chatteris, despite needing to raise money for it on Just Giving, has now promised to complete an overdue camper van conversion for a disabled couple in Wales.
The van, which the couple paid £9,250 to Les Crofts for, should have been ready in October last year but when we visited today (Monday 20) it was still a gutted shell.
They have been told it will be ready in four to six weeks.
Nikki Mason commissioned the work in June 2016 so she and her husband could stay in it when they went to visit her mother, who is dying of leukaemia.
She said: “We found his details online, Les knows the reason for us needing a van. It is not for camping trips, it is a practical investment so we can sleep in it when we go to visit my mum.
“This is most of our savings. We have called the office number, called his mobile, sent texts, at first he would reply saying the work is being done but now he ignores our calls.”
Eight months later, it is still a shell in Mr Crofts’ unit in Honeysome Road Industrial Unit in Chatteris.
• In June 2016 the couple gave him £2,500 to buy the Renault panel van.
• In July he said he needed £4,750 to “go shopping” for the bits to do it up.
• On August 22 he sent a photograph of what had been done - it looks like it does today.
• He then asked for a further £2,000 to complete the job.
• The total given to him is £9,250 - once the purchase price is deducted the couple have paid £6,750 for an interior conversion which doesn’t exist.
Nikki said: “We moved from Northampton to Wales in the summer so we didn’t chase too much, we trusted the van would be done, but by the end of October we became worried.
“We were told there had been a delay due to his colleague Mark having a bad back.
“In December we drove up from Wales. Little more had been done from the photo sent in August.
“In the middle of January we got in touch again and he sent a photo of a handwritten note saying the van belonged to us and outlining the money we had given to him.
“We then had a text saying he was in hospital.”
Mr Crofts said he could not do the work because he hurt his back in December and then had a nervous breakdown in January which required him going to hospital for a week.
He said: “The campervan is in the workshop, the work is being done. I’m not doing it because I’m off sick which is why I didn’t reply to them because I’ve been at home.
“I’ve been off sick for ages and ages. I’m not at work because of all the hassle, it’s got on top of me.”
His colleague Mike Smith, who initially didn’t want to let the Cambs Times in to the workshop for health and safety reasons, as we did not have steel toe cap boots, said the couple had slowed things down because they couldn’t decide if they wanted a cooker with a grill or not.
Since running a story about the Jumbos Jungle, which was supposed to open this month, we received messages from people.
One said: “A lot of people from Chatteris are concerned.”
Another wrote: “There are plenty of people that are disgruntled.”
Another wrote: “Les Crofts took £1,000 under false pretences from me in December 2015 and failed upon arrival to provide merchantable goods to the design agreed via his Ebay business pseudonym “Top-notch-leisure”, one of his many business ventures.”
His other businesses are:
• Les Crofts, vehicle maintenance and repairs 07572 348998.
• Campers and Motor Homes.co.uk 01354 692564.
• Top-notch-leisure ebay 07572 348998.
He used to trade from Unit L2, Curf Farm Business Park, Doddington Road, Curf Farm Business Park, Chatteris but now trades from Unit 8, Honeysome Road, Chatteris.