Carillion’s survival critical for Tameside. (First Published in the Tameside Reporter August 2017)


The building and maintenance support contractor Carillion’s recent and ongoing problems has surely exercised a few minds at Tameside Council.

The company’s share price tumbled sharply three weeks ago and despite winning a government contract on the rail project HS2,they continue to struggle with refinancing and the survival of the Wolverhampton based company is by no means certain.

The HS2 deal is said to be worth £450 million, but the payments for that contract will not start to flow until 2019.

In the meantime the firm has debts of £700 million and a pension shortfall for staff of £800 million.

The demise of a large company like Carillion would be a blow for the construction industry nationally.

What then would it mean for the borough of Tameside being so entwined with the company should the worst happen and Carillion go into liquidation.

Carillion is of course Tameside Council’s preferred developer and it is not only facilitating major building projects such as the new council offices through Vision Tameside, it also provides school meals for thousands of Tameside children and manages and maintains, council owned buildings and schools.

Some of the schools are dependent on Carillion for remedial work that the firm must carry out on buildings the firm constructed and delivered, when some work was found to be unsatisfactory or problematic.

This has certainly been the case with Russell Scott School in Denton.

The school was built by Carrilion and signed off two years ago, but it has been beset with problems, including sewage back flow and a once serviceable playing field which was deemed unfit for purpose.

It is now undergoing further work to restore it to it’s pre development condtion..

When the new school was signed off, the field was found to be a metre higher than when work started and filled with rubble.

It has been suggested that for the level of the field to be higher than before the pre construction level the rubble -that included small pieces of brick and glass – must have come from other building sites.

After the school was signed off, the field was simply topped with turf, but it has flooded with every major rainfall filling the adjoining paths and playground with a film of sludge.

Parents at Russell Scott School sink into the mud as they demonstrate the condition of the once pristine school playing field

Parents continually complained and in April work has begun to restore the field to its original state at a cost of £400,000 borne by the Council, the school and Carillion itself.

If Carillion did cease to operate what would happen to work such as this and the provision of school meals? and the still to be delivered building projects such as the new council offices in Ashton which will not be expected to be completed until at least late Autumn?

We asked Tameside Council if in the event of such circumstances there was a contingency plan in place?

Tameside Council have declined to respond to our request.

Without any plans there are fears that the borough could be beset with chaos and increased expense at filling the gaps left by Carillion.

Not that Carrillion has necesarily proved value for money for Tameside in several areas of it’s operations.

The provision of school meals  was brokered by former Tameside Council education officer, Elaine Todd, before she went on to take up a management position with Carillion.

The cost of the meals came in at 26 pence per unit more than central government gives to councils to provide them.

This has meant that one school is is having to meet the difference with £16,000 from its own budget over the year.

The shortfall is also having to be met by around 90 other schools across Tameside and is thought to cost schools across the borough around a million pounds between them over the financial year.

Carillion are said by Russell Scott’s governors to still owe the school £100,000 for energy costs incurred during the building of the new school.

It is fair to say that Carillion despite it global reach as a major player in construction and support services, has endured major criticism resulting from sub standard work across a range of contracts nationally.

In 2016 a petition containing 7,500 signatures was raised calling for Carrillion and fellow company Amey, to be stripped of their contract to maintain accommodation for Army personnel.

An MoD spokesperson speaking in 2016 said of both companies joint performance: “It is not acceptable that Carillion /Amey have fallen short of expectations”

Members of Pentonville prison board also criticised the firm who were charged with the maintenance of the ageing Victorian jail which was exposed as filthy and rat infested saying: “Carillion failed to respond in time to jobs.”

The dilemma for Tameside now is should it begin to divest itself from its exclusive relationship with Carillion and ask itself is it wise gong forward to have all the council’s eggs in one basket with one firm, on whom it depends too much.

John Bell Tameside Tory Leader

Tameside Tory leader John Bell said: “The problem with this deal is it cannot be monitored because there is no scrutiny committee holding it to account.

Therefore there is no way to ensure we are getting value for money and Carillion are delivering efficiently.

The issue of a former council officer who did commercial deals between the council and Carillion then leaving and going to work in a management post for Carillion, should have been monitored as a matter of scrutiny.”

“Where is the accountability? We are including the back bench Labour councillors here, they do not know anything (more than the opposition).

Due to the lack of lack of transparency we get to know nothing.”

Carrilion’s share price points to continued concerns from the City, it currently stands at around 58 pence which is up from it’s recent low of 55 pence following the share’s dramatic fall from around 200 pence last month and a high of 434 pence six years ago.

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Has the Spanish Government let the separatist cat out of the bag in Barcelona ?


Is the Spanish central government right to use para militaries to disrupt the Catalonian independence referendum

“We will vote” ‘We will vote” is the cry from the thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns across Catalonia.

The Spanish Government reaction?  to send its para military Gaurdia Civil to implement the letter of the constitutional law.

The Spanish constitutional law which the outcome of the putative Catalonian referendum would  bring into doubt.

Putting aside the case for Catalonian independence for a moment, one has to say that process of separation between region and state is now already underway.

Not least because of the tactics and strategy of Rajoy’s central government which has played directly into the hands of the separatists, who will exploit the voting  prohibition enforced by a civil guard who will be characterised as an outside occupying force.

The image of Robo Cop style police  man handling middle class, middle aged citizens of Barcelona and Gerona will not play well to TV audiences whether in Catalonia itself or across the rest Europe.

Worse the situation disseminated on TV has now alerted avery carpet bagging anarchist and political agitator across the Western world.

Barcelona is a cool and romantic place for a revolution civil war or even war of independence.

Now the gauntlet has been laid down the agitati will now flock to Catalonia in the hundreds if not thousands.

They will ally with the activists who will accept them with the naivety of enthusiastic flattered by the support of perceived fellow travellers and these elements will professionalise the unrest and turn it into a revolt.

The turning point will be the first death of a demonstrator or demonstrators of course and one wonders f it could not have been avoided by the central government by simply refusing to rise to the bait.

Hardline Basques from both sides of the Spanish border will provide the shock troops who can form guerrilla units to harass the  Gaurdia Civil.

Desertions from an already flaky Mossos Esquadras will swell the military element to the conflict.


The Catalonian politicians who instigated the whole movement for independence will be superseded by the elements with military clout as they lose credibility to deal with the task in hand.

The Spanish military will never allow Catalonia to leave Spain after six hundred years in the Kingdom without a fight.

Even as the politicians in Madrid order proportionality in any military response to secessionist operations, the colonels within the military will not be expected to hold back.

The apparatchics and technocrats of the EU will watch in horror as the whole tragedy unravels in slow motion with no meaningful analysis or policy response to a situation that has been festering under everybody’s noses for years.

Bringing further into question the purpose and utility of the Supra state construct when confronted by an existentialist challenge to its structure.

The desire for independence has its roots in a weak central government, economic disparity with the rest of Spain and a long standing awareness of a linguistic and cultural identity that has never been rewarded with nation status.

Though the Central government actions to disrupt the referendum process may have had legal legitimacy, they will have only served to inflame passions of those attempting to vote. More so with the first reported injuries to protestors

The actions will serve to provide a further grievance culture for the separatists who feel they  also have legitimacy in exercising their rights within a liberal democracy and their perceived rights to self determination.

The whole irony is that if the referendum was allowed to take place, the separatists would not necessarily have won the vote or at least not by a big enough margin to legitimise independence.

One hopes that the excesses described above do not take shape and become reality, but recent events in Spain have followed a classic template of unbridled separatist ambition and a clumsy repressive response.

Shades here of the Dublin Post Office siege and  repression of Syrian protests against Assad.

We can only be thankful there is no religious dimension to any putative conflict between Nationalists and Separatists.

By Nigel Pivaro

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A new low by ISIS as it postures itself against modern society

Islamic Terrorism has plumbed new depths as children and families were targeted by a suicide bomber at the Manchester Arena last night.

The targeting of such victims highlights that ISIS  and its followers are devoid of a political stance. If they were they would avoid soft targets such as children of all backgrounds enjoying a concert.

They would instead  choose targets with at least some political significance

What next for the heroes of Jihad? A children’s play centre?

The problem for modern societies is that security around hard targets has become so sophisticated that it has forced terrorists into choosing ever more softer targets and so we have attacks like last night.

In the meantime as a nation we need to get harder, why are we allowing the return of people who have travelled abroad for terrorism purposes to re-enter society.

Why do we allow groups who raise money and support for Islamic terrorism to operate as thinly disguised charities.

We have allowed and are continuing to allow terrorists and their support groups far too much breathing space.

Long ago we have shied away from tough but practical choices,  we allowed too many people with terrorist backgrounds to come from North Africa and Saudi, in the name of human rights .

These people went to work in the Mosques such as the infamous Finsbury Park Mosque.

We also inanely patted ourselves on the back with high profile publicity programmes (Contest) that purported to engage the wider public in the fight against terrorism.

The government of the day spent hundreds of millions educating shop workers in how to identify  potential terrorists and spot them purchasing seemingly innocent ingredients, with which to make a home made bomb.

I did a little investigating at the time and it seemed few people had any idea what ‘Contest 2’ was about.

I went out and purchased large amounts of products, that could potentially be used without so  much as a second glance . I wrote up the article for a Sunday tabloid.

That was in 2009 four years after the London Tube and bus bombings.

God forbid that the Arena bomber was able to produce his device from high street sources,

God forgive the authorities if the bomber is someone from a high risk state whose safety and human rights we elevated above our own security priorities.

We now have to get rough with these people as they seek to use our liberalism against us, to attack us,

Below is the Manchester Police Chief’s words from this morning with an appeal for  footage from the public to be sent in to them.


Chief Constable Ian Hopkins speaking at 7 25 am this morning said: “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.
“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives. Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We continue to do all we can to support them. They are being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester.

“This is a fast-moving investigation and we have significant resources deployed to both the investigation and the visible patrols that people will see across Greater Manchester as they wake up to news of the events last night. This will include armed officers as people would expect. More than 400 officers have been involved in this operation during the night.

“To remind you, we were called at 10.33pm to reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. More than 240 calls came in and emergency services were very quickly on scene. Emergency numbers have been established for anyone who is concerned for loved ones who may not have returned home 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man. The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.

“We would ask people not to speculate on his details or to share names. There is a complex and wide ranging investigation underway.

“Our priority is to work with the National Counter Terrorist Policing Network and UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who carried out this attack.

“We have received tremendous support from across the police services and partner agencies throughout the night.

“We regularly carry out exercises to test our ability to respond to such incidents and this has ensured a very swift response from local and national agencies. I want to thank all those members of the emergency services and other agencies who have worked tirelessly through the night in very difficult circumstances. Their response has been outstanding.

“Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in communities. We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times. In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues.

“It is important that we all continue to remain vigilant, but also to go about our daily lives. We would ask people to be alert and report any suspicious activity to police on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321 or dialling 999.

“As people are waking up to this tragic news on what is a sad day for Greater Manchester, the officers and staff from Greater Manchester Police and the other emergency services will continue to do all they can to help get us through the difficult days ahead.”

If you have any images or footage from last night that you believe can assist us then upload them to or


By Nigel Pivaro

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