Leeds City Council has decided to call off the involvement of a Carillion subsidiary in a high-profile restoration project on the south bank of the River Aire.
The project – to restore the Grade-II listed Engine House at Tower Works – was one of three major pieces of construction work involving Carillion or its subsidiaries in the Leeds area.
The company went bust in January this year, shortly after it had been selected as the preferred bidder for construction of the first phase of a major new piece of infrastructure in the city, the East Leeds Orbital Road.
It was also one-fifth of the way through a £4m contract to extend a cycleway into Leeds city centre.
The wholly-owned subsidiary involved in the Engine House project, Carillion (Maple Oak), didn’t go into liquidation, however.
It was selected as preferred bidder for the project back in July 2015, but, according to a report published at the end of last week on the council’s website, no contracts have been signed and no work has been undertaken at the site.
The council has now decided to abandon the procurement process after writing to the company asking it about its financial standing and its plans for the project following the collapse of the parent company.
It wasn’t convinced by the company’s reply.
“On balance of the case put forward, it is considered that there is too much change in circumstance and uncertainty in the position put forward to provide the Council with confidence that its requirements could be currently met by Carillion (Maple Oak) Ltd,” the report says.
“Due to the reasons as set out at exempt appendix 1, it is recommended that it would not be in the public interest to continue with the procurement process. It is therefore proposed that the Council abandons the procurement exercise without award of a contract.”
So it’s back to square one. The council says it’s barely out of pocket for aborting the process and is now going to look at how the restoration project “can be taken forward in a timely manner”.
Tower Works in limbo?
Meanwhile, what happens to the rest of the Tower Works site – owned by Homes England (the former Homes and Communities Agency) – is unclear (to me at least).
Back in 2015, the HCA (as it then was) selected Carillion Maple Oak as its preferred bidder too, but early last year ended up rewriting part of the contract when it became clear that the scheme as originally conceived was commercially unviable.
A new planning application reflecting the changes (from building homes to sell to building homes to rent) will be needed but hasn’t appeared yet.
You’d imagine that Homes England has been in conversation with Carillion Maple Oak too about how it sees its future …