Manchester

Manchester roadblock protest firm 'owed £300k'

Empty digger blocking traffic heading into town on Chester Road Image copyright Sinead Haycox
Image caption Diggers were left abandoned, causing widespread rush-hour delays

The owner of a plant hire company whose machinery was left blocking a Manchester road in a pay dispute claims a council contractor owes him £300,000.

Thomas Halligan apologised to drivers who were held up when diggers were abandoned on Regent Road on Tuesday.

He said his Total Plant Hire firm was owed the equivalent of four months' pay by Dawnus Group, which has since halted work on a project in Wales.

The BBC has approached Dawnus for comment.

Mr Halligan said his company had been employed by Dawnus since September 2018 on the £15m Manchester-Salford Inner Relief Route improvement scheme, which is upgrading six major junctions along Regent Road.

Motorists faced widespread disruption throughout rush-hour on Tuesday when the equipment was left blocking the key route.

Image copyright Jon Reid
Image caption An abandoned digger blocked the traffic heading into town on Chester Road

Mr Halligan said he had experienced difficulties obtaining payment from Dawnus since January.

The final straw came, he said, when he learned Dawnus had been paid "just short of £1m" by Manchester City Council last Friday, but had still failed to pay Total Plant Hire.

Mr Halligan said he had not been able to contact anybody at Dawnus or the council for the last two days.

Asked by the BBC whether the blockade had been the right course of action, he replied: "I'm not going to comment on that. It's not a nice thing to happen but what's done is done."

Drivers have faced disruption since roadworks on the key route began in August 2018.

Mr Halligan said his company would resume work once the dispute was resolved.

A spokesman for the city council said it was "awaiting to understand the position with Dawnus".

He added: "We are making all efforts to ensure the work is restarted as quickly as possible."

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