Heathline Commercials Limited has opened its new £500,000 service and repair centre to ensure commercial vehicles remain on the road during the COVID-19 emergency.

The Cramlington-based firm had intended to hold a grand official opening to mark completion of the five-month project but, due to the social distancing measures, it opened the doors without fanfare and got down to work.

Its nine employees manage all servicing and repairs for individual owner drivers right up to medium-sized commercial fleets.

The importance of the firm’s role was highlighted by a letter from the Department of Transport which said its work was essential to keep the vital logistics sector running.

Heathline had been due to move into the 6,000sq ft unit on Bolam Business Park in December but work was hampered by freezing winter temperatures.

The new building allows Heathline to significantly improve its facilities and range of services.

Specialising in the servicing of commercial vehicles, MOT preparation and inspections to DVSA standard, it is also one of the North East’s leading centres for tachograph repairs and calibration.

As well as a dedicated paint bay and two modern workshop inspection pits, the building has been fitted with an Authorised Testing Facility in anticipation of future plans to become an MOT centre. Heathline also offers breakdown services, minor body repairs and carries an extensive range of spares for all makes of truck, trailer, bus, van and horsebox.

Gavin Cape, engineering director of Heathline Commercials Ltd, said: “We were all looking forward to officially opening this modern building and showing it off to our many customers, but delays meant the completion date ended up coinciding with the coronavirus lockdown.

“Heathline serves a number of businesses running commercial vehicles across Northumberland and Tyneside, so any further delay was not an option and we needed to open to ensure these essential vehicles remain on the road.

“Our staff are obviously following safe working practices and our customers know we are open, and business is growing. It may not be what we planned, but like a lot of businesses we are just getting on with things.”