Town still feeling the Carillion after-shocks
REGENERATION PLANS PUT ON HOLD AS COMMUNITY PAYS PRICE
THE collapse of construction giant Carillion sent shock waves throughout the country.
Nowhere in Greater Manchester has the impact of the firm’s demise been more keenly felt than in Tameside .
From CCTV upgrades and making public spaces safe from terror, to improved playgrounds and a proposed children’s home, a string of vital local services could all end up becoming collateral damage in the wake of Carillion’s downfall. The extra millions it has already cost to get projects back on track are set to have wide-reaching ramifications for the 220,000 people who live and work in the borough.
Through the Local Education Partnership, Carillion’s tentacles also extended into building Tameside’s schools, providing maintenance and delivering meals for children. Until the start of the year, phase two of the £37m Vision Tameside development of Ashton town centre and Tameside College had been progressing smoothly, with leaders hoping it would help kickstart huge regeneration. Council leader Brenda Warrington described the news that Carillion had gone ‘belly up’ – just 105 days away from the building work being completed – as ‘soul destroying.’
The council quickly brought in Robertson Construction Group as the new builder, and got subcontractors back on site. But even that swift action would have a hefty price – with the final bill to save the flagship development, put at £9.4m, forcing them to ‘re-prioritise their plans for future investment and regeneration.’ Tameside’s executive cabinet has hit pause on 18 major investment projects in the wake of Carillion going bust. The extra costs incurred means the council has around £10m less to play with. It is now undertaking a review of its capital programme for the next six years, and establishing what it wants to prioritise and can still afford to do.
These include a £600,000 pledge to improve children’s playgrounds in Tameside, which would have seen 34 play areas improved and made safer with new equipment.
A new children’s home, which would have cost £1m, and a controversial plan to spend £300,000 on improving the borough’s ‘gateways’ through the introduction of welcome signs, could be scrapped.