Social value benefits for corridor communities in M6 upgrade


13 Mar 2024

Social value benefits for corridor communities in M6 upgrade

Schools, a country park, sports clubs, college students, a hospice and charities helping youngsters and the homeless – these are just a few of the groups and organisations benefitting along the M6 Warrington to Wigan corridor as a major upgrade of the motorway takes shape.

We're upgrading the M6 between junction 21a and junction 26, boosting capacity by adding an extra running lane in each direction between the two interchanges and tackling congestion by installing a raft of technology to better manage traffic flows at peak times.

The route includes parts of Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. And, led by main contractor Costain, some of the 3,100 roadworkers delivering the motorway upgrade have also been lending a hand to local community groups – providing everything from a new car park for Ashton Bears Rugby Club and new drainage at Garswood Hall Bowling and Community Club to school and college activities designed to inspire the engineers and road builders of the future.

Caption: As part of their social value activities staff from the M6 project have installed an armed services remembrance bench outside the M6 project’s main compound. The bench is situated along Newton Lane, a popular pedestrian thoroughfare connecting the A580 and A49 at Newton-le-Willows. Pictured are National Highways’ senior project manager Dave Cooke (standing) and (seated) Costain’s project logistics manager Jim Bolton – a retired parachute regiment major and Falklands veteran.

Dave Cooke, our senior project manager for the M6 upgrade, said: “National Highways relies on the understanding and patience of communities living near our major road schemes. Like the M6 project we’re often working in an area for several years and we like to give something back.

“We set high expectations on our supply chain to help us deliver social value in our improvements and it’s fair to say that Costain and delivery partners have more than risen to the challenge. Everyone’s focused on completing the M6 upgrade next year but staff have still found time to help out in local communities in a multitude of ways.”

The roadworkers’ contribution has been about offering engineering know-how and technical skills as much as hard graft. And their work in the community during the past year alone has included everything from delivering improvements at popular Lyme and Wood Pits Country to helping pupils at Millbrook Primary School at Shevington near Wigan build a ‘tuck shop’, a beehive and bee garden, and a vegetable patch.

Work in the wider community has included donating more than 300 books to Newton Community Centre’s book recycling fund raising events – as well as mucking in to help repair and repaint parts of the building.

Ann-Marie Morrison, road director at Costain, said: “The M6 upgrade is a complex major infrastructure project that will provide smoother and more reliable journeys for thousands of daily users but we also have a responsibility to ensure that we are leaving a wider positive legacy and deliver social, economic and environmental benefits, above and beyond what is required to complete a project.

“We’ve enjoyed working closely with National Highways and our partners across the supply chain when engaging with local communities. It is through this collaboration that has made it possible to leave a lasting impact to help local people and the planet.”

Caption: Costain staff, working alongside M6 project sub-contractors Tarmac and WJ Group, helped transform Ashton Bears rugby league club’s pot-holed and uneven parking area with a total overhaul - including foundation and drainage improvements, resurfacing and re-lining with smooth surface and 52 clearly marked and space-efficient bays complete with traffic flow markings The improvement will help the rugby club, just off the M6 at Ashton-in-Makerfield, host higher-level matches. Pictured in the main picture at top of news release are (left to right) Michael Brind, Costain’s social value coordinator, Ashton Bears RLFC chairman Steve Jones and Chris Burrows, Costain's senior community relations and stakeholder manager.

Nicky Shaw, secretary of Garswood Hall Bowling and Community Club said: “The club and our bowlers can't thank Costain enough for the support we've received. We had a longstanding drainage issue with one of our greens. When it rained part of the green could be submerged in flood water for up to 24 hours sometimes leading to cancelled matches or roping part of the green off.

“The practical help and advice from Costain means that even in this very wet winter the rainwater has been dispersing much more quickly - enabling us to keep both our bowling greens open all year round, helping to maximise income to the benefit of the club and its members.”

And Karen Tomlinson, executive head teacher at Millbrook Primary School, said: “Costain’s help has been instrumental in developing and driving our school project forward. With the support of staff from the M6 project we are now able to offer our most vulnerable children a variety of rich and varied learning experiences, which our pupils talk with great enthusiasm about. Costain have helped us to create a legacy which will inspire generations to come.”

The project’s social value contribution will continue this year including a clean-up and maintenance day at a local church, various schools activities, installing a stone circle at a country park, ecology improvements at a community forest garden

Our commitment to delivering social value through work in operating, maintaining, repairing and improving the country’s motorways and major A-roads – and its expectation on suppliers – is set out in our Social Value Plan.

The M6 junction 21a to junction 26 upgrade started in March 2021 and is expected to be completed in spring 2025. As well installing extra technology and adding a lane in each direction along the ten mile stretch of motorway drivers will also be able to use one of up to 22 new emergency areas as a place to stop if they experience a breakdown, with roadside telephones providing a direct link to the regional operations centre.

More information on the project, including regular updates, is available on a dedicated webpage.