MSP calls for probe on M80 upgrade funding row

THE First Minister is being urged to call a public inquiry into funding of the M80 upgrade amid claims that a major construction firm collapsed due to inadequate payments.

Inverness-based Highland Quality Construction (HQC) went into administration last month with the loss of 138 jobs.

The firm's directors have accused Highway Management Contractors (HMC) Ltd – a consortium comprising Bilfinger Berger, John Graham (Dromore) Ltd and Northstone (NI) Ltd – of "bullying" smaller contractors such as them into carrying out work on the Stepps to Haggs upgrade for less than the agreed price.

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However, a spokeswoman for the consortium said the allegations were "completely and totally inaccurate".

The case has been taken up by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant who has asked Alex Salmond for a public inquiry. She said: "I believe Highland Quality Construction have been hard done by. I want to try to ensure no other Scottish firms find themselves in such a desperate situation again."

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