Lews Castle contractor Patton placed into administration

Lews Castle Lews Castle in Stornoway is being converted into a museum

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The main contractor working on the restoration of historic Lews Castle on Lewis, in the Western Isles, has gone into administration.

Northern Ireland-based Patton was awarded the contract in February.

The business will continue to trade while the administrator, Tom Keenan of Keenan CF, decides its future.

The Western Isles' local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, which is helping fund the castle project, said it was in contact with Keenan CF.

Built for 19th Century landowner and opium trader James Matheson, Lews Castle in Stornoway is being converted into a museum at a cost of £14m.

The project has also secured grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Calum Iain Maciver, director of development at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said the future of Patton's contract could become clearer over the next few days.

He said: "In the first instance we have to be mindful of the local jobs and the local companies involved in this."

Administrators were appointed to Ballymena-based Patton earlier this week.

The possible options include breaking up the company, continuing to run its most profitable parts or finding a buyer for bits of the company.

It currently employs 320 staff in various parts of its construction business.

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