County jobs boost as £28m worth of contracts awarded at new hospital

The workforce starting work on the new specialist emergency care hospital near Cramlington.
The workforce starting work on the new specialist emergency care hospital near Cramlington.

COMMUNITIES in Northumberland are set to benefit after north east companies were awarded contracts worth £28m to work on the construction of the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital near Cramlington.

Lend Lease were appointed as the main contractor to build the new life-saving hospital at the end of last year, and when completed in 2015, it will serve 500,000 people in North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Lend Lease and Northumbria Healthcare said they are committed to employing local people wherever practical and the first two sub-contractors appointed are now employing people from the local area.

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Ltd (BBES), based at Cobalt Business Park, has been awarded a £27m contract to complete the installation of all the mechanical and electrical services in the new facility during the 27-month build.

Operations director Geoff Ritzema said: “BBES are delighted to be involved in such a prestigious project which will be run from our local office on Cobalt Business Park.

“BBES has had offices in the north east area for over 70 years with all of our staff, electrical, mechanical and labour coming from the local area.

“Our works will commence during June 2013 and we expect to peak at a labour figure of approximately 150 operatives.

“This labour force will be drawn from the local area with recruitments expected.

“Main packages such as Air Handling Plant, Electrical Switchgear and numerous sub-contracts will also be sourced from the north east region.”

Owen Pugh, of Dudley, near Cramlington, has won a contract worth £700,000 to do bulk excavation and civil engineering works on the site.

The firm employs local people from Cramlington, Blyth, Backworth and Camperdown, they are also using recycled or quarried aggregate from North Shields and Whitburn.

Owen Pugh chairman John Dickson added: “We have taken on 14 new employees in the last six months, some of whom were unemployed, so we feel we are doing our bit to help beat the recession by giving jobs to local people.

“We are delighted to be involved in this venture that will not only help the local economy but will also provide a fantastic emergency care hospital for the people of the area.”

Owen Pugh Construction is currently tendering for further sub-contract work on the site to provide footpaths, hard standings and car parks.

Other local companies have won contracts worth about £300,000 in total.

To date 72 per cent of the local workforce is from Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, with a further 21 per cent from elsewhere in the region, with only seven per cent from outside the area.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is good news for the local area, I am delighted that in the process of building a fantastic new hospital for our patients, we are also helping people in the area by providing much needed jobs.”