After a gap of five years, the Teesside Airshow is back. With so much investment going into the regeneration of the airport, many will see it as entirely fitting that the event returns.
As Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen, says:
“The airshow used to be one of the headline events for Teesside, attracting people from far and wide to witness some truly breath-taking displays. I remember going along as a child, and I’m thrilled I can play a small part in bringing it back this year.”
But, to be fair, the mayor is being overly modest here. In reality, he is playing more than ‘a small part’ in bringing it back. For a start, the TVCA is the main sponsor of the event, and, as the Echo, reports, the Teesside Airport Foundation, set up by Houchen, is to be the event’s charity partner.
“Over the moon”
And the BBC quotes on of the event organisers, Chris Petty of Skylive Air Ltd, saying
“I’m over the moon that we’re bringing the Teesside Airshow back for another year now that large-scale events can go ahead once again.”
That’s Chris Petty, also, coincidentally a director of Cornerstone Business Solutions, which appears here …
… in the records of the Electoral Commission, as a donor to Ben Houchen. As is David Soley, director of the Teesside Airport Foundation, who appears twice, as Ramscove Ltd is a company owned by him.
And we couldn’t help but notice the address for correspondence given on their website …
… which, coincidentally is the offices of MAP Group, which also appears on Houchen’s list of donors. Now that they’re organising the event, of course, Skylive Air needs premises, as the registered office is actually the address of their accountants – Beaumont Accountancy Services.
The eagle eyed among you will have spotted that these donations to Houchen are not recent. Oddly, after this flurry of donations in late 2019 and early 2020, Houchen doesn’t appeared to have been given anything since. He certainly has made no further disclosure of donations since then.
Enter the piemaker …
One reason why the company has chosen to set up shop only temporarily is that Chris Petty’s business partner, Steven Davies, may not be available for future events. Steven Davies owns an eclectic set of companies, but the one for which he is best know is what the Gazette recently called a ‘Teesside icon’ – Upex pies. And the reason Upex pies were in the news was because Davies has put the company up for sale, “reluctantly”, as he says, because he’s retiring and moving abroad. Which may, of course, put future air shows in jeopardy, given that organising one has to be a hands-on sort of a job.
The list of companies owned by Steven Davies is remarkably long as well as eclectic – companies to do with cleaning, drinks, property to name but a few. The list goes back to 2005, although many of the older ones are now dissolved.
Then there is also an older company, Homestyle UK, incorporated in 1999, one of whose directors is a Steven Davies, and we wondered if this might be the same as Steven Davies of Upex Pies. Now we have no photograph of the other Steven Davies, just a name and address:
This Steven Davies appears to have ended up in the papers in 2001 for the most unfortunate of reasons, when he was caught by police in a sting operation and convicted for cocaine trafficking:
Now, apart from the name, the location and the fact that they are precisely the same age, there is nothing to link ‘cocaine Davies’ with ‘Upex Davies’. Except, that is, for another coincidence. The co-directors of Homestyle UK were Theydon Nominees and Theydon Secretaries. In 2005, these same two organisations set up a company called Portland Developments (North East) Ltd, subsequently bringing in ‘Upex Davies’ as a director. And Steven Davies Upex is now the beneficial owner of that company. Steven Davies Upex continued to use both Theydon Nominees and Theydon Secretaries when setting up companies until, in 2011 he switched to the beneficial of those companies – Elizabeth Ann Davies – and had her as a director of two companies – The Lifestyle VIP Company and The Lifestyle Discount Card Ltd.
Now there is nothing more than circumstantial evidence to show that both Steven Davies are one and the same, and in any case a spent conviction is a spent conviction. But if they are one and the same, then something curious is happening at the air show. Because the Northern Echo in 2001 reported that the judge in the case ordered Steven Davies’ assets to be seized. If he is the same Steven Davies, then the air show, with the help of Houchen and the TVCA and the Teesside Airport Foundation, is helping him to get his money back.
Land of dope and crony?
An air show is an intensely patriotic event., indulging the public’s appetite for nostalgia with spectacle such a ‘Battle of Britain fly past’ and the aerial gymnastics of the Red Arrows. It would be unfortunate if, through lack of due diligence, Houchen is allowing public money to be used to help fund the retirement of a convicted criminal. Equally unfortunate that he appears to be going out of his way to use this event as an opportunity to repay his donors for their generosity. Whatever next?