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Shaylor Group collapse: Fears over further delays on Wolverhampton Civic Hall work

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

The collapse of construction group Shaylor has led to fears over works on the already-delayed £38.1 million revamp of Wolverhampton Civic halls

The Shaylor Group logo outside Wolverhampton Civic Hall in the midst of a major £38.1m revamp

The restoration of one of Wolverhampton’s gems, the Civic Hall, was perhaps facing its biggest crisis yet today after the construction firm hired to do the job collapsed into administration.

Shaylor Group was set to carry out the long-awaited revamp of the Civic and Wulfrun halls nd its demise leaves the city council looking for a new contractor to finish the project.

Around 200 jobs have gone at the Aldridge-based firm, which has ceased trading leaving a number of local firms owed cash out of pocket.

Initial works on the Civic, including the removal of asbestos, have been completed but the main part of the job, which will include an extra 500 seats, has yet to get under way.

Council bosses said it was still their aim to have the scheme completed “as close to possible” to the planned 2021 date. But they will need to find a new contractor first.

Re-starting work

A glance across the Black Country to the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick could show just how difficult that could be.

While a much larger development, work has not re-started on the £475 million hospital almost 18 months on from the demise of Carillion.

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The authority has also insisted it took steps to inspect the financial health of Shaylor earlier this year, amid questions over its judgement.

Shaylor Group was appointed to carry out the refurbishment of the Civic and Wulfrun halls

A council spokesman said: “We are very disappointed to hear the news about Shaylor Group and we feel for their employees – particularly those local to Wolverhampton.

“In relation to the Civic Halls, we were concerned four months ago and carried out the latest of our regular financial and sustainability checks on Shaylor Group. This represents a request for legal confirmation from the company’s solicitors and accountants. Based on this there was no cause for concern.

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“The Civic Halls remain a key priority for us and we are determined to deliver our ambitious £38 million improvement and renovation plans that will make the halls a world-class venue.

“The first phase works have been completed and work is set to begin on phase two - the major improvement works.

“We will now work as quickly as possible to find a new contractor to continue these crucial works and are aiming to stick as closely as possible to the completion date we have been working to.”

'Tragic'

Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, said he hoped there would not be a "long delay" on the Civic refurb.

He said: "It is tragic to see a company like this go with the loss of 200 jobs.

"From a Wolverhampton point of view, it is really important we have continuity in the Civic Hall renovation project this company was working on.

"It is important now we don't have a long delay or severe interruption to that work."

The Grand Slam of Darts was held at Aldersley Leisure Village last year

In March, the Express & Star revealed the Civic was due to re-open in 2021 - five years later than originally planned - while the cost had rocketed to £38.1m.

Big events, such as the Grand Slam of Darts and comedy gigs, have been shifted to Aldersley Leisure Village with the Civic out of action.

'A bad situation worse'

Opposition councillor Jonathan Yardley, a former vice-chair on the stronger city scrutiny panel who has worked in the construction industry for decades, believes there could be an extra delay of up to two years

He said: “They should have made sure they employed a competent contractor and carried out the necessary financial health checks to ensure they could complete the contract.

“They lurch from one self-inflicted crisis to another. A bad situation has got even worse.

"They have got to go through the same contractual procedure they have just gone through in Sandwell with Carillion going bust. It must be another two-year delay."

Concern

Business expert Ninder Johal, a former president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a concern because if we take the example of what happened to the Midland Metropolitan Hospital the demise of Carillion meant it cost more money to get it back on track.

“We do have to now question the validity of large businesses and how public sector contacts are given.”

“There is a concern for Shaylor because like Interserve, like Carillion they are involved in large projects that affect the community as a whole.

"And for SMEs it is a particular concern when they bid for a supply chain contract are they getting into bed with a company that could go bust?

When one of these big boys go down the ripple effect is devastating.”

Aldridge and Brownhills MP Wendy Morton said: "To lose 200 jobs, it is a significant number for a community like Aldridge. It is a bitter blow for those affected and their families."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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