Local firms could be in line for R&D contract

A GLIMMER of hope for local employment came this week with the news that Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) will be putting the ill-fated social housing contract at Stranraer’s Ailsa Gait back out to tender.

The principal contractor, R&D Construction, fell into administration in April this year with the loss of its 200-strong workforce.

Plans had been ongoing to simply transfer the contract to another company but DGHP confirmed this week that legal advice steered them away from this option.

Now the locked-up construction site, which had aimed to bring much-needed social housing to Stranraer’s community, could be re-opened by one of a number of contractors who have expressed an interest in the project, according to DGHP, which could also open the door for local construction workers.

A spokeswoman for the company said on Wednesday: “The procurement process will see the completion of all the socially rented houses.

“Although the R&D administration was disappointing, we have had a good deal of interest from other contractors to complete the work.”

The housing formed part of a regeneration project to deliver quality homes in Stranraer and Dumfries.

A total of 164 houses have been completed in the programme and 190 are in progress, with a further 150 for sale.

But the timescale to have workmen back on the sites will now be much longer than originally hoped due to red tape surrounding the re-tender process.

MP Russell Brown reacted to the news that the project is out to re-tender by expressing his disappointment at the delay.

He said: “The news that these contracts are going out for full re-tender is deeply disappointing for the former R&D employees and DGHP tenants waiting to get into their new homes.

“The funding is guaranteed to build the social housing but the “for sale” houses have been like a millstone round the neck of the contracts.

“It’s good news that DGHP are still committed to getting construction workers back on those sites when they finally re-open, but the delay means it’s taken far longer than anyone thought when R&D first went into administration.

“This has been a torrid time for the former employees and their families and it now looks almost certain it will not be until the new year before workmen are back on the sites.”

The DGHP spokeswoman added: “The hope was that the contracts would be transferred wholesale in an assignation process, which would have allowed work to continue this summer.

“We started this process several months ago, in tandem with the assignation attempts.

“As the full re-tender of the works has to go through the European protocol for large-scale contracts, it is a much lengthier process and will take several more months to complete.

“Although Mr Brown has given an indication of timescales for this process, in particular when the matter may come before our board, these are speculative timescales and will depend on the potential complexity of the contract as we move forward with the process.”