Minister praises link road jobs

Iain Duncan Smith (right) at the Costain site with David Morris MP (left) and Costain project director Andrew Langley.
Iain Duncan Smith (right) at the Costain site with David Morris MP (left) and Costain project director Andrew Langley.
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Work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith praised the work of local people building the M6 link road when he visited the area on Friday.

The Secretary of State visited the Costain site in Halton Road, Lancaster, with Morecambe & Lunesdale MP David Morris to see the work being done on the road.

Mr Duncan Smith asked workers how they got their jobs and what skills they already had or what training they had been given on the job.

Levi Watts, 23, from Morecambe, was one of those who met the minister.

He told him: “I have come from knowing nothing about construction a year ago.

“I was working in a bakery and I noticed Costain were coming to build the road.

“I wanted a change in my work and I have never looked back. I’m now on a two year apprenticeship in surveying.”

Dianne Ashton, employer and partnership manager for Lancaster, Morecambe and Fleetwood Job Centres, said Costain had taken on 80 local people.

And project director Andrew Langley said Costain have been helping secure the futures of their employees.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was “very impressed” with the work being carried out.

He said: “It’s fascinating to come and look at it. I have been visiting various places to look at investment and the projects that are bringing in jobs and prosperity.

“This will improve access to the area. People will feel they can get in and out of the area quicker, which is great, and it has also brought in a lot of jobs.

“People are gaining skills in all sorts of areas, which is good for the local population.

“This is an example of the government investing in an improvement programme; not just in the road but in quality of life.”

Mr Duncan Smith said schemes such as this showed the government’s plans to boost the economy were paying off.

He said: “The numbers of jobs we have been creating in British business is amazing.

“Employment levels are the highest they have ever been, higher now than in the US for the first time ever.

“The long-term plan we have put in place has generated that position.

“There is a huge amount of money now going into infrastructure programmes.

“The UK’s infrastructure has been left behind for too long and it has to be upgraded.

“With this road people will see it’s a great area for people to live.

“The quality of life is great – where else would you want to place your business? It’s a great place to be.”

Mr Duncan Smith also visited Morecambe Job Centre, as well as A&G Precision and Sons Ltd in Preesall, who manufacture complex machined components for military and civil aerospace including the Eurofighter Typhoon.

A&G is a family business with a focus on employing local people and has close links with St Aidan’s CE Technology College.

Some of the pupils who have participated in work experience and some of the apprentices A&G employ met the Secretary of State with Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw MP.

Mr Duncan Smith described the training levels as “fantastic” and also praised the teachers of St Aidan’s.

He said: “If we get kids trained up to the skill levels we have here then they can then be in companies making product under cutting other businesses.

“So this renaissance of business, this renaissance of manufacturing, is starting in companies like here and the training levels are fantastic so I take my hat off to them because that is what the plan from the government from the word go to restore manufacturing to rebalance the economy.

“The local school here of course absolutely understands it.”

Mr Ollerenshaw added: “It was a pleasure to bring Iain Duncan Smith here to show him how St Aidan’s and A&G work together to provide local people with world class engineering skills.

“The training here is second to none and all twelve apprentices have been taken on, which is testament their skills and willingness to learn but also because A&G invest lots of time in their people which is good to see.

“The apprentices here are paid to learn and will be in jobs for life.”