Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn building firm TAL wins £5m school contracts

By Rachel Martin

Lisburn construction firm TAL has won deals worth £5.1m at two Northern Ireland schools.

The contracts at Broadbridge Primary School in Eglinton and St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena are to finish by August 2017 and early 2018 respectively.

As part of the deal, the building and civil engineering firm will build a £2.8m creative arts building at St Louis Grammar School.

It will involve the refurbishment of the listed former convent building and building a two-storey extension. And the £2.3m contract at Broadbridge Primary School will include a 10 classroom extension and sports hall.

TAL currently employs nearly 60 people. Moya Fitzpatrick, bid manager at TAL, said: “We are delighted to have secured these education sector contracts, which are core to our plans to grow the firm by developing our portfolio in different sectors.

“These projects will provide long awaited new and enhanced education facilities for pupils and staff.”

The projects are two of 12 across Northern Ireland to share in £35m funding from the school enhancement programme.

And work is also under way on a £1.3m contract at Sacred Heart Grammar School in Newry, which was awarded to TAL earlier in the year.

The UK building and civil engineering firm was founded 35 years ago and has also worked on restoration of the Grade A listed Portaferry Presbyterian Church, which has become an arts and heritage venue.

And it’s carried out work on the serum production facility at Randox Science Park and the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast. 

The news comes amid fears that major infrastructure projects here could be put on the back-burner when EU funding dries up.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, said: “The delivery of the Northern Ireland Executive’s procurement pipeline is absolutely vital to the medium to long-term sustainability of Northern Ireland’s construction industry.

“This announcement is a welcome part of delivering that pipeline, given the positive impact it will have on jobs and wider economic output.” He said the importance of public sector work to the construction industry should not be underestimated.

“For many, even with the welcome return locally of private sector-led investment, these pipelines are the lifeblood of industry and it is crucial that the information provided in them is detailed and accurate, as well as coming with a much higher level of accountability than previously.”

He said margins were “incredibly tight” on public sector work  — which he said should become a focus for the devolved government. As we look to the budget period from April 2017, there is also a need for the Executive to provide much greater clarity and certainty in the budgets for clients in areas such as road maintenance, Northern Ireland Water and social housing.”

The most recent Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin, which assesses the workload of around 700 firms, found construction work had increased in the region during the first quarter of this year.

It found the total volume of construction work in the first quarter of 2016 increased by 3.4% compared to the end of 2015, compared to a 1.1% increase seen in Great Britain.

The figure was also 2.3% higher than in the same quarter last year.

The increase in the first quarter was due to a 12.9% increase in repair and maintenance — while infrastructure output increased by 9.6%.  However, housing input was down 1.6% in the first quarter — despite anecdotal reports from housebuilders that their workloads are growing.

Belfast Telegraph