Portsmouth builders protest as firm leaves them homeless

FURIOUS builders have refused to leave a building site after being left thousands of pounds out of pocket when their employer went bust.

Wednesday, 10th August 2016, 5:55 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:20 pm
Builders Peter Taylor and Tony Childs at the site

Some of the team of Portsmouth-based workers have been left homeless and jobless as a result of being unpaid for the work they have completed.

The construction workers have refused to move off the site in Bedfordshire until they are paid. They are owed around £2,000 between them, with some of the men struggling to pay their rent and mortgages.

The men left their homes in Portsmouth after they were promised at least two years’ work by Vantage Design and Build. They were hired to carry out ground work at the former RAF Stanbridge site in Leighton Buzzard.

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For months, the men toiled on the building site, but work came to a sudden halt when Vantage went into administration.

Builder Peter Taylor, 53, of Southsea, said: ‘We rely on the week-to-week basis of getting paid and some of the guys haven’t been able to pay their rent and others have mortgages.

‘It’s hard enough when you are working away from home, but some of them have partners and kids back at home who miss them and are relying on the money to be sent back.

‘No-one is speaking to us. We’ve asked over and over when we’re getting paid and we’ve heard nothing.’

Vantage Design and Build was placed in administration last month with the loss of more than 60 jobs. It is believed to have around 400 creditors also chasing the company for cash owed to them.

With no instructions from their employer, the men stayed living in portable accommodation on site and some found odd jobs at a site nearby.

The site is now in the possession of Catalyst Housing Association. On Friday, a security firm hired by CHA ordered the men off site.

Mr Taylor said: ‘We’ve been living here and now they’ve put up extra security. It’s getting worse. They’re stamping all over us.’

‘We are going to stay put until we hopefully get the money, we are not going to give up.

‘Give us our money, we have done the work and now we want paying.’

A spokesman from CHA said: ‘Since taking possession of the site, we have employed a security company to keep it safe and ensure it remains in a condition ready for the resumption of building.

‘As part of this process we’ve discovered some contractors were staying on the site overnight without our permission and in response we’ve installed new locks to prevent this. These security measures are an important part of fulfilling our legal responsibilities as the owner of the site.’

Vantage was working on major sites for housebuilder Inland Homes. It had been locked in a payment battle and claimed to be owed £4.2m.