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Laing O’Rourke and Lendlease, short-listed for the £330million renovation of Manchester Town Hall, have "chilling ethical, legal and worker safety standards" says Liberal Democrat opposition

3 October 2018
John Leach

John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withington from 2005-15 and now leads the Liberal Democrat opposition on Manchester Council, says: "Once again, Manchester Council's complete lack of oversight means we are now forced to choose between two contractors with chilling ethical, legal and worker safety standards."

The Liberal Democrat opposition on the Labour-run Manchester Council has criticised the records of both the contractors short-listed for the £330million renovation of Manchester Town Hall.

The Town Hall, completed in 1877, is a superb example of Gothic revivalism by architect Alfred Waterhouse.

With many sandstone buildings in Manchester turning black in the polluted atmosphere in the city during the Victorian era, Waterhouse used Yorkshire-quarried Spinkwell stone for the building, which he said would resist "the deleterious influences of the Manchester atmosphere". Inside, public areas were faced with terracotta rather than plaster as it would be more resiliant and easier to clean. Extensive use was made of stone vaulted ceilings, tiled dados and washable mosaic floors. The renovation of the building will involve major stone contracts.

The Liberal Democrats point to the records of the two companies short-listed to lead the project, Laing O’Rourke and Lendlease. 

John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withington from 2005-15 and now leads the Liberal Democrat opposition on Manchester Council, says: "Once again, Manchester Council's complete lack of oversight means we are now forced to choose between two contractors with chilling ethical, legal and worker safety standards."

Lendlease comes in for most criticism. John Leech says the company has left Manchester's Green Quarter residents coughing up £3million to replace unsuitable cladding in a Grenfell Tower-style cladding row. He says that "instead of clamping down on the firm's practices, this council is setting itself up to award them a contract worth more than a quarter of a billion pounds".

He continues: "Under absolutely no circumstances should Lendlease even be considered for this contract until they have paid the £3million Green Quarter cladding bill that is crippling local people. We should, and must, be demanding much higher standards than this for Manchester residents."

He cites various cases he says show Lendlease is not the sort of contractor the council should be dealing with, including the 2016 blacklisted worker case and incidents in America and Australia.

The Liberal Democrats say the other company in the running for the £330million Town Hall renovation project, Laing O'Rourke, is only "marginally less offensive than Lendlease". Again they cite several cases it has been involved in, including blacklisting.

Final bid submissions from both firms are due on 19 October. The Council should reach its decision in November.

 

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