Chatteris man has a string of unhappy customers, including a disabled couple who paid him thousands for a campervan and another with an unsafe bathroom

PUBLISHED: 15:22 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54 22 February 2017

Les Crofts in a Facebook post about riding out in his Porsche PHOTO: Submitted

Les Crofts in a Facebook post about riding out in his Porsche PHOTO: Submitted

Archant

Les Crofts, the Chatteris man behind the doomed Jumbos Jungle children’s play centre, is revealed today as being responsible for a series of failed enterprises that left his customers out of pocket.

Les Crofts unit at Honeysome Road in Chatteris Les Crofts unit at Honeysome Road in Chatteris

They include a disabled couple who paid him more than £9,000 for a campervan conversion that now sits as an empty shell in his industrial unit in Honeysome Road.

Nikki Mason wanted the van to sleep in when she and her husband visited her sick 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 called the office number, called his mobile and sent texts. At first he would reply saying the work is being done but now he ignores our calls.”

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

The campervan has only had some insulation installed, some wiring and a small fridge sits ready to be fitted.

The incident was typical of many told by dissatisfied customers who contacted us after we first revealed his failed Jumbo Jungles enterprises.

Crofts is no stranger to commercial life – we found companies in which he was involved ranging from accepting building and electrical work to running an on-line trading company.

One customer told of a bathroom conversion he attempted. After ripping the old bathroom out and replacing it, he took the money - £2,100- and left. She was later to find the tiling was wonky, his plumbing caused the downstairs to flood and the electrical work he carried was deemed unsafe.

Les Crofts of Chatteris who is accused of leaving a trail of disgruntled customers for his mechanics, camerpvan conversion and building business Les Crofts of Chatteris who is accused of leaving a trail of disgruntled customers for his mechanics, camerpvan conversion and building business

She said: “When he finished it looked like a five year old had done it.

“Tiles were wonky, some bulged out, I could cut myself on one side as there’s no edging.

“The electrics are not safe, there’s no RCD breaker. It’s going to cost £4,500 to undo the mess.”

Since revealing the Jumbos Jungle fiasco, which was supposed to open this month, we received numerous calls from readers.-

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

One said: “There are plenty of people that are disgruntled.”

Another said: “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.”

Crofts has a Just Giving Page in a bid to attract shareholders to an, as yet, non existent indoor children’s play centre which he advertised at £200 each for VIP membership - he has pledged to pay back all of these.

When we visited his industrial unit on Monday, we were met by a man who said he was ‘Mike Smith’; only later did we realise we had, in fact, been speaking with Crofts himself.

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

Previously Crofts had told us he could not finish the Renault panel van conversion for October 2016 because he had a bad back and then had a nervous breakdown last month. He also insisted he was still off work through ill health.

However he told another person he had recently been on holiday in Albania.

One person contacted us and said: “He said he had gone to Albania to look at play equipment for Jumbo’s Jungle but that might have been a lie.

“He manages to start up so many businesses by getting a new girlfriend/fiancé/wife for each one and puts their name on the business to get around his poor credit problem.”

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

Crofts said he was going to open a half a million pound children’s play centre called Jumbo’s Jungle in Chatteris this month but blamed his failure on being unable to find the right property for it.

He claimed that once landlords knew he wanted a change of use they did not want to know anymore.

Crofts now says he has found a new unit and is working on it.

He said the Just Giving page had been set up by somebody else and he had nothing to do with that side of things.

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

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.”

During our visit Mr ‘Smith; said he 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.

He told us the disabled couple with the campervan had slowed things down because they couldn’t decide if they wanted a cooker with a grill or not.

Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris Renault campervan in Les Crofts' unit in Chatteris. It should have been ready in October 2016 but in February 2017 it still looks like a shell PHOTO: Rob Morris

• Trading Standards has been contacted for a comment.

• Have you been affected by Crofts? Contact the newsdesk john.elworthy@archant.co.uk or call 01354-661915.

2 comments

  • Hold on a moment, you wanted to go into a workshop that's in use without the required heath and safety equipment and your calling them out on here for sticking to health and safety rules set by the government? So you want access to a workshop with no safety equipment? what happens if you hurt yourself? will you then sue them? Also I quote: "He told us the disabled couple with the campervan had slowed things down because they couldn’t decide if they wanted a cooker with a grill or not." So how's he meant to finish it if he does not know what size things are going in there? Sorry but this just looks like someone is being fussy and is now getting salty about it. Reading this it does not look like it's in context after the super way I was treated. also you say about customers being out of pocket but I'm not. As I posted on your older story about Jumbos Jungle: "I'm sorry but this whole thing seems to be a witch hunt of the greatest degree. I purchased a membership and have had a full refund after I was contacted by Mr Crofts long before you published this, despite this I will purchase another when it opens. I saw the comments on the Facebook page "chatteris cambs discussion page" and was appalled when my comments stating I had had a refund were deleted by the admins of the page. Clearly there was some kind of agenda by those people. I have also taken Mr Crofts up on his offer to see the building and he's right it needs a lot of work but there are people in there fixing it. Also while it is still up for rental online I have done some research and found it has never been taken down by the rental agency due to some contract they have that stops them taking it down at this moment in time. I asked for more details about this and the agent refused to tell me because of data protection. On another note, I also asked about the Just Giving page when I took my membership out as I was interested in donating to help a local business out and was told by the lady at reception that they were not going to make it go live as it was no longer needed. I also see it has never in fact been live so no one could donate anyway. I see on your own picture that no money was raised so I question your motives when you bring it up. I think those hounding this man should be ashamed and I'm very disturbed my comments stating I have had a full refund of the membership and seen inside the building were deleted from the Facebook group. The attack this man has been under seems almost too personal. I really hope this comes to the town as it would be something we sorely need and from my experience these people have been 100% straight up and honest. I fail to see the issue here. I'm sure I will be put down for my comments (if what happened on the Facebook group is anything to go by) but credit where it's due, he did the right thing."

    Report this comment

    Jeff_fisher113

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

  • Hold on a moment, you wanted to go into a workshop that's in use without the required heath and safety equipment and your calling them out on here for sticking to health and safety rules set by the government? So you want access to a workshop with no safety equipment? what happens if you hurt yourself? will you then sue them? Also I quote: "He told us the disabled couple with the campervan had slowed things down because they couldn’t decide if they wanted a cooker with a grill or not." So how's he ment to finish it if he does not know what size things are going in there? Sorry but this just looks like someone is being fussy and is now getting salty about it. Reading this it does not look like it's in context after the super way I was treated. also you say about customers being out of pocket but I'm not. As I posted on your older story about Jumbos Jungle: "I'm sorry but this whole thing seems to be a witch hunt of the greatest degree. I purchased a membership and have had a full refund after I was contacted by Mr Crofts long before you published this, despite this I will purchase another when it opens. I saw the comments on the Facebook page "chatteris cambs discussion page" and was appalled when my comments stating I had had a refund were deleted by the admins of the page. Clearly there was some kind of agenda by those people. I have also taken Mr Crofts up on his offer to see the building and he's right it needs a lot of work but there are people in there fixing it. Also while it is still up for rental online I have done some research and found it has never been taken down by the rental agency due to some contract they have that stops them taking it down at this moment in time. I asked for more details about this and the agent refused to tell me because of data protection. On another note, I also asked about the Just Giving page when I took my membership out as I was interested in donating to help a local business out and was told by the lady at reception that they were not going to make it go live as it was no longer needed. I also see it has never in fact been live so no one could donate anyway. I see on your own picture that no money was raised so I question your motives when you bring it up. I think those hounding this man should be ashamed and I'm very disturbed my comments stating I have had a full refund of the membership and seen inside the building were deleted from the Facebook group. The attack this man has been under seems almost too personal. I really hope this comes to the town as it would be something we sorely need and from my experience these people have been 100% straight up and honest. I fail to see the issue here. I'm sure I will be put down for my comments (if what happened on the Facebook group is anything to go by) but credit where it's due, he did the right thing."

    Report this comment

    Jeff_fisher113

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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