Lightwoods shock

Sandwell Council has today issued this statement:

The council are really sorry to announce that the contractor, Fairhurst Ward Abbotts (FWA), carrying out restoration to Lightwoods House and Park has gone into administration.

We are very disappointed for those employed by FWA, their sub-contractors and suppliers and also for the local community.


Both the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund acknowledge there may be a delay in completing the restoration but this will not prevent the delivery of the project. It is inevitable there will be some delays whilst things are sorted out and we hope to get the work back underway very soon.

In the meantime we have taken steps to secure the house and site with on-site 24 hour security and installation of CCTV around the house. The council will endeavour to keep the Friends Group and the wider community informed as things progress.

This means the site visits planned for this weekend will no longer happen.

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20 Responses to Lightwoods shock

  1. Ian Bradley says:

    Well my god .Consulting over how many years ?By the supposed people in the know .Meetings to what end .Someone messed up .

    • Bob says:

      I’m not sure what that stream of consciousness is supposed to mean, but it makes no sense. You don’t ‘consult’ about building tenders, nor decide it by ‘meetings’ of ‘people in the know’. Companies respond to an invitation to tender. This company work on major national restoration contracts, including for the Royal palaces, Chatsworth House and the Houses of Parliament. No-one ‘messed up’…an established company, in business of this kind for over 70 years, went bust. It happens, sadly.

    • steveeling says:

      Do you understang anything about this?

      • Bob says:

        I don’t think he does, Steve, just trying to make some cheap political jibe I suspect?

  2. Matt Bullock says:

    Hugely disappointing of course. Are there now plans in place to re-tender to the other shortlisted contractors for the remaining works as soon as possible in order to keep this incredibly important project on track?

    • Bob says:

      We only had it confirmed this morning, Matt, and we’ll need to talk to the HLF people about how we go forward. It’s not just the main contractor but a whole complex of sub-contracting arrangements that need to be considered. We all want to get it back on track asap though.

  3. Greyken1957 says:

    I feel for the employees, many of whom were formerly employees of Linford, who went down about four years ago.

  4. Chris Severn says:

    I dropped in on the Blog today having seen on FB the news of the collapse of FWA. As an ex-resident of Abbey Ward with a continued interest in the future of the Lightwoods House project, I was really disappointed to read such snarky replies to Ian Bradley’s comment. I know it might be frustrating to have to respond to criticism on blogs like this – particularly if you think the points have not been well thought out – but I have to say, Bob, that your response to Matt Bullock appeared much more temperate and more appropriate than your earlier exchange regarding Ian Bradley’s comment. Even if this person has wound you up in some way, it would have been much more helpful to explain politely what’s happened with the project instead of being dismissive.

    I really hope the project restarts soon and look forward to hearing more details on the Blog.

    • Bob says:

      I doubt you’re in full possession of the facts, though Chris. Ian Bradley has been posting derogatory comments on Facebook slagging off the council and making ignorant statements about entering into an arrangement with this company, and a bit more beside. He doesn’t want ‘a polite explanation’ he is trying to stirring up trouble for right-wing political purposes, and frankly, if he doesn’t like it, I’m not over bothered.

      • Mike Allen says:

        What derogatory comments has Ian been posting Bob? Sorry but I’ve missed them I’m afraid and I’m curious because I know Ian and he’s a sound bloke, can’t imagine him spewing rubbish without reason.Could his comments have been misconstrued?

      • Bob says:

        Personally, I don’t follow the man, but someone sent me a screenshot of rude and idiotic comments he had posted on Facebook accusing the council of incompetence and failing to ‘check the credentials’ of the company.

  5. steveeling says:

    I too was copied into the screenshot of the Facebook post. I can confirm that what was posted was a disgrace; making allegations against the work of people that was just ill-informed, rude, rubbish.

    He needs to give some consideration to what he is writing before his fingers hit the keyboard.

  6. Just terrible, not a good time to lose your job either

  7. Chris says:

    As a former employee of FWA until we were all made redundant on Tuesday (30th June 2105) evening I can only convey our immense devastation regarding the demise of our company and the subsequent closure of the Lightwoods site.
    Many of us were and still are in tears about this news. we haven’t just lost a job, we all were passionate about Conservation and projects we ran many of us working long hours including weekends (as was planned for this weekend coming), this was a vocation one we built up over many years, so please spare a thought to the two hundred plus staff who are now seeking employment.
    Having been a part of the project at Lightwoods, I can categorical state that the Council, HLF Architects, and the other professional bodies paid due diligence in the appointment of the contractor. Any other comments to that nature could be seen as liableness. There are several stages of the procurement process to proceed through and the mechanics of the tender is comprehensive.
    I wish the project and the professional team well and I know Sandwell MBC will endeavour to appoint a company to complete the project and deliver to Bearwood its Lightwoods House and Park project.
    Thank you.

    • Bob says:

      Thank you Chris. We’re equally devastated on behalf of a fantastically committed workforce. Best of luck to you and your colleagues in finding alternative employment.


  8. Chris Severn says:

    Bob/Steve, no I haven’t seen Ian’s comments on FB because I simply dropped in on the Blog, as I do occasionally. The exchange with Ian Bradley created a poor impression, tbh, and I just feel that perhaps everyone involved needs to give consideration to what they’re writing before their ‘fingers hit the keyboard’ so that local residents receive positive messages and can be assured that the focus is firmly on salvaging the project.

    I’ve had my say on that particular matter but do want to add that I’ve lived in and around the Bearwood area for 55 years and would like nothing more than to see the House and surrounding area totally restored. I sincerely hope that will happen soon.


    • Steve says:


      My response on this “don’t try to defend the indefensible”.

      You should look at the Facebook post that was copied to me. It was utterly disgusting. It was everything that anyone can say is wrong about social media. It is someone who hit the keyboard with the most offensive statements imaginable in the circumstances.

      Let’s be clear. There was no failing in procurement, but worse, many committed people gave list their jobs. This is a tragedy for everyone. What was gained from the Facebook post other that hurt and misery?

      Do you want to be associated with that?

  9. Mike Jones says:

    Firstly… My thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs. When it happened to me a few years ago, there were no redundancy payments and despite having worked for 20 years (in multiple companies), no real support from the state when you really need it. It will be a real shock, so I hope they get on their feet quickly and don’t find that their employment prospects have been under cut by contractors using cheap Eastern European labour and supported by the in works benefit system.

    Secondly, let’s hope this fine project gets going again quickly.

    Best of luck… Many people have put a lot of effort into this…. Including our local councillors.

  10. hazel shipton says:

    having j ust read what chris severn has said i have a tear in myeye those men made every day i passed the house a pleasure. there enthusiasm and passion for the job could be seeen,the work they have left behind is a true testament to there skill and craft gentlemen im merely a housewife but thank you for everyday you worked on”our house” good luck to you all

    • Bob says:

      That wasn’t Chris Severn, Hazel, but another Chris who was actually working on the site and has lost his job. Thank you for your kind thoughts.


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