Whitley Bay Metro station renovation plans in jeopardy as contractor The Buckingham Group ceases trading

The £5m restoration of Whitley Bay Metro station has been thrown into doubt, with the construction firm behind the works on the brink of collapse.
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Buckingham Group filed a notice to appoint administrators last week, saying that “rapidly escalating contract losses and a sharp reduction in liquidity” meant that it had to cease trading.

The Buckinghamshire-based firm was awarded a £5.3m contract earlier this year to refurbish the historic glass canopy at Whitley Bay station.

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Work was about to get started on the project and scaffolding has already been erected, but the repairs are now shrouded in uncertainty.

Netting is currently in place underneath the canopy to ensure the station is safe. (Photo: Nexus)Netting is currently in place underneath the canopy to ensure the station is safe. (Photo: Nexus)
Netting is currently in place underneath the canopy to ensure the station is safe. (Photo: Nexus)

Buckingham Group was also responsible for the huge Metro Flow track dualling scheme, which required the line from Pelaw to South Shields to be shut for three months last year, though the bulk of that scheme is already complete aside from some minor snagging issues.

It is understood that North East transport bosses are working on contingency plans to keep Whitley Bay station open and safe should there be a major delay to the works on the the Grade II listed structure, with a new contractor potentially needing to be appointed if Buckingham Group does go into administration.

Tyne and Wear Metro operator Nexus said: “We are aware of the news that Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd has filed notice of its intention to enter administration.

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“Buckingham Group has been appointed to undertake the restoration of the historic canopy at Whitley Bay Metro station in North Tyneside.

"We are in dialogue with Buckingham about the next steps in this process, and what it might mean for the outstanding work that they are carrying out on behalf of Nexus.”

The station renovation is due to include replacing the canopy’s glass with a “more robust” alternative, as well as strengthening and repainting its steelwork.

Earlier this year, a section of the roof collapsed into the station marketplace during a storm, with the broken panes narrowly avoiding hitting a stallholder trading below.

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The glazing directly above the Metro tracks will also be reinstated, providing a more sheltered environment for passengers.

Buckingham Group, which is also involved in the redevelopment of Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, said it had suffered “deep losses and interim cash deficits incurred on three major stadium and arena contracts, and a substantial earthworks contract in Coventry”.

It also pointed to “extreme inflation linked to the Ukraine conflict and other challenges in the sports and leisure division”.

The company, which said it is exploring a sale of either all of part of its business, added: “Over several months and right up to this week, the board has worked with specialist advisors to seek to bring substantial new investment into the business that would have enabled the company to continue trading as a going concern without interruption. However, this initiative has ultimately met without success.”