Protest over a UK firm painting bridge

SUPPORT LOCAL: James Tweedy, of Blast It, protests next to Fenella Bridge, in Peel, on Saturday. The DoI then gave local contractors the chance to submit a tender for the painting work, which is being carried out while permanent repairs take place

SUPPORT LOCAL: James Tweedy, of Blast It, protests next to Fenella Bridge, in Peel, on Saturday. The DoI then gave local contractors the chance to submit a tender for the painting work, which is being carried out while permanent repairs take place

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REPAINTING of the faulty Fenella Bridge in Peel has been delayed to allow local contractors to submit a tender for the work.

The Department of Infrastructure had intended to award the contract to an off-island company.

But following a protest by the footbridge on Saturday by Peel resident James Tweedy, of Blast It, and representations made to the department, local contractors were invited to submit tenders for the work.

Speaking after the protest, Mr Tweedy, who has run the company which specialises in blast gritting and spray painting for three years, said it was ‘absolutely disgusting’ the contract would go to a UK firm without island companies being invited to tender for the work.

‘Business is good but we have to look ahead,’ he said.

‘A lot of companies rely on the government for work.’

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Tweedy said he hoped to submit a tender – but said they had not been given much time.

‘The whole point is I shouldn’t have had to protest in the first place,’ he said.

‘By letting me put a price in they are acknowledging they’ve done wrong.’

After being approached by the Manx Independent, the department released a statement on Wednesday announcing local contractors would have until yesterday 4pm (Thursday) to submit a tender.

A DoI spokesman said: ‘Initially, the department took the view that there were no competent contractors for this type of work on-island following a tender exercise carried out for the repainting of Poortown Quarry, which failed to realise any local tenders.

‘It therefore intended to award the contract to an off-island specialist that has carried out similar work on the island on many occasions.

‘However, late last week it came to light that a local contractor felt that he was able to meet the specification requirements and wanted to submit a price.

‘This firm and some others have now been afforded this opportunity.’

The spokesman said the original paint coating failed five years earlier than expected.

The bridge, which was installed over Peel harbour in 2006, is due to reopen before the Easter weekend.

It has been lifted on to the quay to enable the slewing mechanism, which failed in May 2009 and June 2010, to be removed and modified.

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