Castle works grind to a halt for second time

A new contractor is now needed to finish the �3.5m castle project.
A new contractor is now needed to finish the �3.5m castle project.

A £3.5m project to restore Pontefract Castle is hanging in the balance after the works contractor was scrapped.

Wakefield Council said last week that it had terminated the contract with Heritage Building & Conservation (North) Ltd, as the company had failed to complete the project.

The firm was brought in to finish the work last March, after previous contractor William Anelay went into administration in November 2016.

Andy Wallhead, the council’s corporate director for regeneration, said: “We are very disappointed and frustrated that Heritage Building & Conservation (North) Ltd has failed to deliver its obligations under the contract for the works at Pontefract Castle. There has been no work on site since mid-March and despite numerous attempts to contact senior managers we haven’t received any assurances that work will re-start.

“Because of this we have been left with no alternative but to terminate the contract and get someone else in to complete the work. Although we have not lost any money to HB&C (North) Ltd, we have lost time on what is an enormously important project for the council and Pontefract.”

The authority said it was working to appoint a new contractor “as soon as possible”. It is taking legal action to recoup the costs associated with finding a replacement company.

The restoration project, titled the Key to the North, first got underway in September 2015. Its aim is to carry out conservation work at the monument, to take it off historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk’ register. Work still needs to be done to paths and chipping driveways.

The Express contacted Heritage Building & Conservation but the company did not wish to comment.

Sir Bill O’Brien, of the Friends of Pontefract Castle, said: “It is most disappointing to learn of a further delay in the restoration of the castle. The Friends of the Castle who make a significant contribution to the castle wellbeing cannot pardon further delays following the delays due to the weather, and the previous contractor going bust. It is hoped the delay will not impede the program of events planned. The castle is the focal point for Pontefract.”

Reader Clare Routledge said: “Hopefully third time lucky! We’re really looking forward to the barriers coming down and being able to enjoy the castle grounds in full again.”