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‘Cowboy’ contractor removed from Lidl site

Lidl left in the lurch

‘Cowboy’ contractor owes thousands to supermarket sub-contractors

Anton McNullty

THE construction of the new Lidl supermaket in Westport has come to a halt as the giant German supermarket chain seeks to appoint a new contractor after the previous contractor left the job owing close to €350,000 to sub-contractors and suppliers.
Cavan-based contractor Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd owes sub-contractors and suppliers thousands of euros for work carried out on the project.
Work on the project, which is at an advanced stage, has been halted for over a week. Sub-contractors working on the site have refused to work after being left for weeks without any payment by Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd.
The Mayo News has learned that the Cavan-based company has been served with a ‘termination notice’ by Lidl, and that it owes close to €350,000 to up to eleven sub-contractors and suppliers.
Lidl Ireland confirmed to The Mayo News that Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd ‘will not be completing construction on the store’ and that the chain is in the process of appointing a new contractor.

Dogged by controversy
The construction of the Lidl supermarket which is located at the Demesne, Westport has been dogged by controversy since last February when the construction company was involved in a major oil spill on the site.
The supermarket was due to open last June, but over four weeks of work must be completed before it can open for business. While Lidl did not confirm when it hopes to appoint a new contractor and recommence work on the site, it said it was ‘fully committed’ to opening the store in Westport later this year.

‘Cowboy builder’
One sub-contractor told The Mayo News that he had been negotiating with the contractor for over ten weeks and described Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd as a ‘cowboy builder’ that had continually promised he would be paid but ‘nothing happened’.
“You would come out from talking with them thinking you would get paid but nothing ever happened. The lies they have told people have been unbelievable and what we were promised was pure lies. We started to see through their lies when they promised payments and nothing happened and then contacted Lidl.
“The work has stopped on the site for over a week because at the moment, between suppliers and sub-contractors who have been talking to each other, there must be eleven of us who are owed money. There is a huge amount outstanding – you would be talking about €350,000 altogether. I have 14 lads employed on that job and they have not been fully paid, and I also have suppliers onto me and I cannot pay them,” he said.
People who are owed money by Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd are due to meet with representatives from Lidl this week to try and resolve payments due.
“We are working on resolving all outstanding issues with stakeholders and interested parties,” the statement from Lidl read.

Westport not alone
Efforts to contact Aidan Elliott Construction Ltd for a response were unsuccessful, but the situation in Westport is not unique; the firm has failed to complete jobs elsewhere.
According to the Anglo Celt newspaper, it ceased work on the redevelopment of Laragh NS in Co Cavan last week within a fortnight of its completion, leaving pupils unable to start the new term of school. Construction projects by the Cavan firm at Ballybay Community College and a primary school in the Castleblayney area are also understood to be affected.