Jistcourt troubles spark Powys council house project fears

Proposed flats on the old bowling green site in Newtown Image copyright Jistcourt/Powys County Council
Image caption Jistcourt had been hired to build 26 flats in the centre of Newtown

The future of Powys's first council house development in 40 years is in doubt amid troubles at the building firm hired for the project.

Port Talbot-based Jistcourt said on Friday it was going into administration with 47 of its 66 jobs being lost.

Powys council officers say they will move "very swiftly" to secure a site in Newtown where 26 flats are to be built.

Administrators say the firm's directors are working with clients to bring "live projects" to a "workable conclusion".

On Monday, councillors heard that £695,000 had been spent so far on the £3.5m scheme.

However, a source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that none of this money had gone to Jistcourt.

Nina Davies, head of housing and community development, told members that the council had not yet been officially notified that Jistcourt had gone into administration.

But she confirmed that her team was preparing for the worst.

"Officers are putting together options," Ms Davies said. "If and when we receive notification we will be moving very swiftly."

Powys County Council aims to build 250 new homes by 2023.

A report to Monday's meeting said the Newtown project on a former bowling green was supposed to be completed by September 2020.

Councillor Elwyn Vaughan, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, called for a full report, asking if due diligence had been carried out on the company.

He said he was concerned that the day after a turf-cutting ceremony in May, Jistcourt told the council its bank could not provide a "performance bond" guaranteeing the project would be completed if the contractor failed, due to the company "exceeding their limit".

"Surely such confirmation should have provided sufficient warning that all was not well at the company," Councillor Vaughan said.

Three school building projects in Powys were already in limbo following the collapse in March of construction firm Dawnus.

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