Council bosses praised for avoiding disaster after Carillion collapse
Monday 24th September 2018 11:23 Ashton News Tameside Posted by Tom Greggan

Council bosses have been praised for their handling of a ‘potentially disastrous situation’ to get the huge college and council HQ project in Ashton back on track.

Tameside Council has been left to foot a bill of £9.4 million after construction firm Carillion went into liquidation in January, leaving work on the ‘Vision Tameside’ project at a standstill.

The town hall quickly brought in a new contractor, Robertson Construction Group, got sub-contractors back on site and made sure apprentices were kept on.

A monitoring visit on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who contributed more than £4m in skills funding to the project, praised the council’s response to the collapse.

In their report, the independent monitor stated that “overall we feel that the council has taken a very responsible and measured approach to manage what could be a potentially disastrous situation for a major public project”.

The borough’s strategic planning and capital monitoring panel heard that ‘good progress’ is generally being made, with more than a third of Robertson works complete.

The roofing and facade are almost finished, and work currently being undertaken includes mechanical and electrical installations, installation of fitted furniture and equipment, as well as ceilings and partitions.

Interim director of growth, David Moore, told members there would be 31 different moves affecting 600 people once the building was operational, with homeware chain Wilkinson’s also opening in the
facility.

“Once the building is up we have the college moving in, in early February, for the public facing side of the building, and then we concentrate on bringing some of the staff members probably around about February, March,” he said.

“There is a whole programme of public realm works that take place over and above. It is a huge piece of work that will take a little bit more time.”

Council leader Cllr Brenda Warrington added: “I’m pleased it’s going on as planned. We are confident that we will meet those timescales, particularly for the college and Wilkinson’s.”

The final approved budget for the whole project is now £62.7m, but there are several costs that still need to be finalised to make sure it stays within this budget.

Town hall bosses are yet to receive the final bill from Robertson, and need to make sure that all staff will be moved into suitable accommodation. Officers said it was ‘imperative’ that they were finalised ‘as soon as possible’.

Speaking after the meeting, deputy leader Councillor Bill Fairfoull said it is hoped that by bringing the college into the heart of the town centre the local economy will get a boost.

He said: “That’s thousands of young people in the town centre every day, which the market and businesses can benefit from.”

 

By Charlotte Green
Local Democracy Reporter