Last week when Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, revealed the news that the programme to build or rebuild over 700 schools was scratched, parents and teachers were hurt and angered and grass roots efforts were started to try and prevent the cuts. There were other hurt victims of the the cut as well, namely towns and local businesses that would have benefited from winning a government contract to do the work.
One such town was the west Somerset market town of Bridgewater. The town has a population of 34,000 and had expected the programme to fund work on 5 schools.
BAM, one of the country’s largest construction services groups, lost a 100 million pound contract with Somerset County Council when the cut was announced. The contract had been set to be signed last Wednesday.
The day after the announcement there was another. EDF Energy revealed it would spend 500 million pounds in the Somerset region over the next eight years as part of the construction plan for the new nuclear power station to be built in Hinkley Point. There are 10 such stations planned to be built across the country. EDF only awaits the final approval before beginning the project.
EDF plans to employ 5,000 construction workers either directly or indirectly through contractors. Of those at least 50 per cent are expected to be local workers. Other jobs will benefit as those 5,000 workers require goods and services from the area. Once operational, the plant will employ 900 people and should have a business life of 60 years.
This is just the sort of event that the Government hopes to see replicated across the country. As public sector jobs are lost, private sector ones come forward. No more will local business search out government contracts but they will seek out and try to win private company bids. While the two projects were completely unrelated it is exactly the situation the Government has promised will occur over the next years.
EDF has launched a pre-qualification website, run by Somerset Chambers of Commerce that is open to any business in Somerset: EDF pre-qualification site for work contracts in Somerset.