DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg was in St Helens yesterday to sing the praises of a multi-million pound investment in Pilkington Glass.
The Lib Dem leader visited the Cowley Hill Works on College Street to check out the progress that has already been made on the glass giant’s new £36m coated glass production facility.
An award of £5m has now been made towards the project by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund - a scheme targeted at boosting private sector growth.
Mr Clegg said: “Creating long-term jobs and long-term growth is our number one priority for Britain. For too long the UK economy has been too focused on London and all too often this has been at the expense of places like St Helens.
“I want the North West to be a place where people make things again, where iconic businesses like Pilkington can thrive.
“Today, I have also announced an additional billion pound boost for British businesses which means the Regional Growth Fund will create an estimated half a million jobs before the end of this Parliament.”
David Pinder, Pilkington Glass’s managing director of Building Products UK and South Europe, said: “We are delighted that the Government is supporting us in making this investment. It’s excellent news, not only for our company, but also for the local community.
“The new line will allow us to widen our range of high-performance coated glasses, enabling our customers to meet and exceed UK building energy-saving regulations.
“Local UK manufacture of some products we currently import from our plants elsewhere in Europe will also help reduce transport costs and environmental impact, in line with our sustainability agenda.”
Work has already started on the site to prepare the derelict land for foundations to be laid.
And the NSG Group, which bought Pilkington Glass in 2006, has appointed North West contractor Barnfield Construction to complete the mammoth design and build project by April 2012.
The 280-metre long building will not only provide a new 150,000 sq ft facility for the off-line production of energy-efficient glass, but also 10,000 sq ft of additional office space.
The coating line, which will produce the new product Pilkington K Glass S, is expected to be operational by October 2012.
Bob Hepworth, St Helens Council’s director of urban regeneration and housing, said: “The investment strengthens the long-term future of float glass production in St Helens. It also underpins the City Region’s low carbon strategy.
“This very significant amount of funding is a tremendous boost both to the company and to the economy of the town.”
And Tim Webber, the managing director of Barnfield Construction, said: “We are delighted to have been selected at competitive tender to act as main contractor on the scheme. The NSG Group is an extremely prestigious company and we are pleased to be able to include them in our extensive list of clients.”