Sheffield highways contractor Amey put up for sale

A major Government contractor, whose public sector work includes highways maintenance work in Sheffield linked to tree-felling controversy in the city, has been put up for sale by its parent company.

Amey workers resurface a Sheffield street.

Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial is looking to sell “all or part” of its services division, which includes Amey, the company in charge of the £2.2bn Sheffield contract which began in 2012 and is due to run until 2037.

An Amey spokesman told The Yorkshire Post today it was business as usual, with no impact on the delivery of its work in Sheffield or elsewhere.

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“This review in no way impacts our day-to-day operations,” he said.

Tree-felling work in Sheffield has received substantial opposition.

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, Ferrovial, which is part owner of Heathrow airport, has appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore its sale options.

Ferrovial has previously revealed it had hired “an external consultant to explore the potential divestment of all or part of the assets of the services division of which Ferrovial owns directly or indirectly”.

Earlier this year, Amey reported a £189.8m pre-tax loss for 2017 after being forced to make a provision of more than £200m for its highways contract in Birmingham, where the company has been involved in a long-running payment dispute over the quality of work being carried out.

In Sheffield, Amey was awarded a 25-year contract to upgrade the city’s roads, pavements and street lights, which began in 2012. The council signed up to a PFI deal as a way of accessing over £1bn of Government funding towards the costs of the work.

The contract has also involved the controversial removal and replacement of thousands of street trees in the city, with protests by campaigners against what they believe to be unnecessary removals of healthy trees resulting in dozens of arrests.

The tree-felling work has been on hold since March following a national outcry at the use of dozens of police officers and private security guards to support operations in the wake of growing protests.

Talks have been taking place between Amey, the council and representatives of Sheffield Tree Action Groups to try and find a way forward, while The Forestry Commission is investigating the work that has been undertaken so far by the company and the local authority.

Alan Story, from the No Stump City anti tree-felling group, said of the sale process: “This must be watched very carefully. It is one reason why any proposal or any proposed solution on the trees must be legally binding and measurable.”