Company confirms bid to buy quarry, with hopes jobs will be saved

A quarry which went bust could soon be back in business - under takeover plans by a specialist demolition firm.

Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 6:35 am
The Marsden Quarry site

Local residents say they fear continued disruption to their lives after bosses at G O’Brien & Sons confirmed they are in talks to buy Marsden Quarry near the border of South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Some have now called for the site to be permanently mothballed but admit they expect big business to win out and for operations to continue - only in the hands of a new owner.

The Marsden Quarry site

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Ronnie Fenwick, 76, of Mill Lane, Marsden, who had led previously campaigns, said: “The dirt that place throws up is pure filth. It gets all over our homes.

“We just want it finished. It’s time to put the quarry to bed but I doubt it will be. We always get the rough end of the stick.”

In October the quarry’s owner, Owen Pugh Aggregates, went into administration with the loss of more than 250 jobs.

A skeleton team of less than 30 has been kept on while administrator Grant Thornton seeks a buyer.

The Marsden Quarry site

Gordon O’Brien, managing director of East Boldon-based G O’Brien & Sons, said: “We are still negotiating and as yet haven’t purchased the site.”

Whitburn and Marsden Labour councillor Tracey Dixon said she planned to meet with the firm should it take over the site, to ensure it worked with the community.

She added “O’Brien is a leading name and I would want a leading name company who is there for the long term and who will work together with the community and the local authority.

“The residents have had issues for a number of years, and the last thing I want is a company to come in and not recognise the needs of the community.

“If it does turn out that it is O’Brien then I would want to meet up with them so that there are reassurances about what they plan.”

Fellow Labour ward councillor Joyce Welsh welcomed O’Brien’s involvement, provided it safeguarded jobs.

She added: “I would hope that a lot of the people who work there will be retained but there have been some problems with dust over the years and Owen Pugh did try its best with that.

“But there were times when we had to give them a nudge because of mess on the road. That is something we would keep an eye on.”

Last year O’Brien sold its waste recycling division to national firm Biffa.

Residents living in terraced houses to the south of the quarry have long called for the quarry to be closed or converted to less industrial use.

Grant Thornton would not comment.