Problems that bedevilled the redevelopment of Janet’s Corner estate in Castletown were raised in the House of Keys.
MHKs heard that the development was delayed by bad weather and the unexpected discovery of asbestos buried under the older homes that were being demolished.
Contractor Parkinson’s, a subsidiary of the Sefton Group, then experienced cash flow problems in October last year and requested that some of the money normally retained by government until completion of the project, was advanced early.
The debt-ridden Sefton Group has sold the assets of Parkinson Ltd whose contract at Janet’s Corner was its last.
Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw defended Parkinson’s who he said he done an ‘outstanding job’ under extremely difficult circumstances. He said that more than 90 per cent of the project was completed and he rejected the suggestion by Peter Karran (Lib Van, Onchan) that it has ‘cost the taxpayer dearly’.
He said normally half the retention money would be retained until practical completion and half 12 months later after completion of any defect fixes.
The Minister said his department had considered the risk and concluded there would still be adequate protection through the balance of retention monies held and the provisions of the performance guarantee bond. He told MHKs the current retention represented 30 per cent of the outstanding amount.
Parkinson’s had been working on the last phase of the Janet’s Corner renewal scheme since August 2010.
The works involved the phased demolition of redundant properties and the construction of 73 new houses and flats.
To date, just over half of the homes have been handed over and occupied by tenants. Mr Robertshaw said this was not a commercial requirement as the contractor could have handed over all but the first 10 homes at the end of project.
He said: ‘The development has not been straightforward and has been beset by adverse weather conditions along with an unexpected discovery of asbestos containing material buried under some of the older housing blocks.
‘Despite all the difficulties, the contract did maintain reasonable progress until the summer of last year when there was a noticeable slippage in the programme, particularly due to delays in deliveries of materials. Parkinson Ltd advised in October last year that it was experiencing some cash flow problems.’
Mr Karran said this was ‘another example of bad governance getting themselves in a complete mess’. ‘It’s ended up costing the taxpayer dearly,’ he said.
‘No it hasn’t. He’s entitled to his opinion,’ replied Mr Robertshaw.