WORK on a major job-spinning Wigan factory has stalled – over a row about cables.
Angry bosses of wet-wipe firm Nice-Pak say builders have been paid to stand around doing nothing for weeks already because mobile phone giant Vodafone keeps delaying the re-routing of underground lines which would allow them to get on with construction work on its new base.
The firm is decamping from Hindley Green to what will be, when it is finished, Wigan borough’s largest building.
And it will create an extra 100 jobs to add to the 140 staff it is transferring over.
But while other utility and phone providers have acted to unearth and divert underground lines and pipes, Vodafone started the work in September but then downed tools.
Four more dates for the work’s completion were then offered for November and December but these have all now passed.
Nice-Pak operations director Paul Symonds said today that each time engineers were due to arrive a message would come through saying they had been diverted to “higher priority” work.
Completion of the building and opening - in February and May respectively - now look set to be delayed by weeks if not months. And that is costing Nice-Pak money.
Today, after being contacted by the Wigan Evening Post, Vodafone said that work would now be carried out on Monday and the project be completed by January 4.
But for Nice-Pak, seeing will be believing
Mr Symonds said: “It looks very much like a big company saying to a little company: ‘we don’t care’.
“It is particularly frustrating because everyone else has been so accommodating. We have had superb co-operation from Wigan Council and all other companies with underground lines and pipes quickly responded to our requests and re-routed them around the site so Liberty Properties could crack on with the work.
“But there has been this one cable issue since September. Vodafone started the work and then haven’t been back since with four suggested completion dates coming and going. Generally they have told us it is because they have had higher priority work to deal with. I believe at least one issue involved the BBC.
“But this is beginning to cost us money. We have builders being paid to stand around and do nothing while the days tick away.
“If it doesn’t happen then we will have to look into the legal avenues available to us. We can’t let this delay us endlessly.”
Mr Symonds said that local MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue had now become involved in the issue too.
And following Evening Post inquiries, a Vodafone spokeswoman said: “We’ve been working closely with the developers of the site to carry out the work of diverting the cables but the earlier dates for this had to be re-scheduled.
“This was for various reasons beyond our control including needing to ensure continuity of services for a major broadcaster.
“We are working to divert the cabling currently and this should be completed by December 14 which will allow construction to begin.
“The permanent re-routing will be completed by January 4.”