THIS was the scene in St George’s Square yesterday – the centrepiece of a £4m redevelopment scheme.
The revamp of the famous Huddersfield landmark ground to a halt two weeks ago after the contractor Wrekin Construction went into administration.
Kirklees Council officials are now negotiating to get sub-contractors back on the site.
But in the meantime Huddersfield’s most important public space is a mess, with traffic cones, metal fencing and bricks lying abandoned. There were no workers or plant equipment at the site at 9am yesterday.
But Kirklees cabinet member for regeneration Clr Christine Stanfield stressed that both the council and the sub-contractors were keen for work to restart.
She said: “We are negotiating with the sub-contractors at the moment.
“The council has a very great desire to get things done as quickly as possible and I’m sure the people who were working there are equally keen.
“Once work restarts it should be finished in six weeks.”
But Clr Stanfield said the work couldn’t be rushed: “You can’t just pick up someone else’s shovel and carry on as if nothing has happened. There are several sub-contractors involved and everything about this redevelopment is bespoke – you can’t just get the material off the shelf.”
Work on the square stopped on March 10 when Shropshire-based Wrekin went into administration with the loss of 530 jobs nationally.
Managing director Peter Greenwood said at the time that the company had an order book of tens of millions of pounds but had been forced into administration by “a total lack of support” from its bank, RBS.
The work, which began last April, has caused power cuts which have disrupted businesses in the square. Last month the George Hotel’s general manager Mark Wakeley told the Examiner the disruption could end up costing his business £150,000.
And Peter Butler, senior partner at Bramleys estate agents based in Railway Station Buildings said the work had cost his company tens of thousands of pounds.
The redevelopment has been controversial from the start, with some councillors complaining about the use of pink Chinese granite to pave the square rather than local stone.