COUNCIL officials today vowed to get work restarted in St George’s Square within days.
They spoke out after men working on the £4m revamp stopped work and went home yesterday – 24 hours after main contractor Wrekin Construction went into administration.
The Square refurbishment was already weeks behind schedule when the company hit trouble but now leading councillors are unclear what date it will recommence.
They are unable yet to say what the financial implications of the scheme will be for the council and the local taxpayers.
Clr Christine Stanfield, cabinet member for Regeneration Transport and Environment, said Kirklees council were in talks with administrators Ernst and Young.
She said: “We are hoping to still make the date of the official opening on St George’s Day.
“I hope it will be finished in time but it’s very sad for the company Wrekin and those who were working on the square.
“We don’t want people to lose their jobs – that’s the worst thing that could happen at this moment with the economic situation across the country.
“I hope we will be able to keep the same subcontractors employed that have been working on the project, and hope work will resume in the next couple of days.”
Clr Stanfield told the Examiner she has ‘never been a fan of the regeneration of the square in the first place’.
She said: “I don’t think this latest crisis can be blamed on anybody or the scheme.
“It’s just a reflection of what is going on countrywide. I never admired the scheme, but to have an unfinished scheme is even worse.”
Ashley Myers, operations director for The George Hotel, said his business had lost up to £150,000 in the last six months because of the building works.
The business has also had to make one senior member of staff redundant and reduce staff over the half year.
Mr Myers is now in the process of setting up a meeting with Kirklees Council’s Director for Regeneration, Ken Gillespie, to discuss the problems.
He said: “We’ve lost the car park because of this and a lot of customers and money.
“We are obviously very sad that a lot of people are going to lose jobs but something needs to be done.
“The work on the square has had a dramatic effect on surrounding businesses and now Wrekin has gone bust we have no idea how long this will affect us or how badly it will affect us.”
Hazel Wadsworth, from Lepton, came out of Huddersfield train station to find nobody working on the square.
The 76-year-old said: “For a start, I don’t think the square needed touching at all because there was nothing wrong with it as it was.
“On the whole it’s been a total waste of money and it’s not even near finished.
“It’s because there was no penalty clause, so the company were in no rush to get it finished.”