‘We pledged to work hard at local supply chain engagement, and we keep our promises’

The £100m transformation of Parkside Colliery in Newton le Willows has placed its first contract with a local supplier, as the giant project moves from planning to delivery.

St Helens-based sign manufacturer Vinyline Graphics has been awarded a contract to manufacture a range of exterior site signage following a competitive tender process.  The installations will appear around the boundary of the site, subject to planning permission.

The deal marks the first ‘win’ for Parkside Regeneration’s long-standing pledge to involve as many local suppliers as possible in the delivery of the project.  The firm – a joint venture between St Helens Council and developer Langtree – has appointed St Helens Chamber of Commerce to help manage the task of identifying and informing potential bidders of tender opportunities.

“This is a complicated procurement process but by taking a thoughtful approach on how we break it down and publicise it, local suppliers will find it easier to bid for work,” explained Langtree chief executive John Downes, who also chairs Parkside Regeneration.

“It’s not about doing favours for companies.  They have to be competitive, but our programme with the Chamber is designed to support those who need it so that they are ‘fit to bid’,” explained Mr Downes.  “After that, it’s about helping signpost them to and through the tender process.  We made a pledge at the very start of this project that we’d work hard to engage with local suppliers, and we will keep that promise.”

Keith Hughes, managing director of Vinyline Graphics, says he’s delighted with the appointment.

“We have always had a keen interest in seeing this site transformed for the good of the town and the wider region,” he said.

“Parkside’s impact will be felt many times over if more local firms work with St Helens Chamber and we’re delighted to be leading the way.”

The deal with the Chamber is part of the Parkside programme’s bid to maximise the social and economic gains from the huge investment.  Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Business & Skills, said: 

“As a council, we are committed to ensuring that major schemes, like Parkside and the forthcoming town centre regeneration, benefit our borough in as many ways as possible – whether that’s local companies being awarded contracts or residents given employment and training opportunities.

“This focus on social value helps ensure that money stays in the local economy and supports development of local skills and businesses. We look forward to working with our partners to identify more opportunities in future.”

Behind the scenes a team of professionals are busy working up different aspects of the programme.  The main construction tender is expected to be published in the autumn and bidders will be judged, in part, on proof of their ability to engage local labour and local sub-contractors.

“The main contract to build our first speculative units will be large and best-suited to regional- and national-scale contractors, so we will be looking carefully at how they will involve sub-contractors from the St Helens area,” said John Downes.  “The Chamber of Commerce will be available to them as a resource as they prepare their bids.”

  • St Helens Chamber of Commerce is keeping a database of local companies keen to bid for work on the huge regeneration project and interested bidders are asked to contact Mike Sarath, who is co-ordinating the programme, to register their interest: mike.sarath@sthelenschamber.com