Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sales still sliding at Travis Perkins

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins issued a gloomy trading statement this morning with sales down 15.6% during the first nine months of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

In total group turnover for the nine months to the end of September is down 11.0% with sales in the merchanting division down by 15.6%.

The statement said: "Whilst like-for-like turnover per trading day for this period was down by 16.3% like-for-like sales for the third quarter have improved to 11.9% down as 2008 comparatives ease. Volume relative to peak levels in early 2008 has yet to show signs of sustained improvement and pricing pressure remains with the rate of sales price inflation continuing to decline.

"Total turnover in the general merchanting business is down by 15.9% with like-for-like turnover per trading day down by 16.8%. For this period our specialist merchanting business has total turnover down by 15.0% and like-for-like turnover per trading day down by 15.4%.


Sales still sliding at Travis Perkins


"In Wickes total turnover for the 39 week trading period to 26 September was up 0.7%.  For this period like-for-like sales per trading day were up by 0.7%, with core products down by 3.0% but showroom sales up by 20.8%. However, for the last thirteen weeks the total like-for-like turnover per day was up by 7.8%. Overall the investment in increased awareness of our improved kitchen and bathroom ranges continues to be successful.

"With our continuing focus on cost control and cash generation, net debt has continued to reduce in the third quarter from ВЈ527m at 30 June 2009. 

"These sales trends mean that the Group trading for the last three months is ahead of our expectations. However, our outlook for 2010 remains unchanged from that stated in our June interim results announced in July and therefore, given the current uncertainty over the course of this current recession, our view of the current market consensus for 2010 also remains unchanged."

Genesco posts $2.7 million second quarter net lossTurnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & Development

£200m housing framework up for grabs

Orbit Housing is advertising for contractors to bid for its development contractors framework, worth between ВЈ50m and ВЈ200m over four years.

The work will involve construction of properties to add to the group's 34,000 homes in East Anglia, Midlands and the South.

It is split into six lots and Orbit expects to appoint three contractors to each one. All lots include construction or design and build contracts and are split into work up to ВЈ1.5m and work over ВЈ1.5m in each of the group's regions.

The deadline for tenders is 30 October.

Click here for the full OJEU.

Top 5 construction tenders - 20 August 2009Nashville company starts work on hospital in China

Speedy signs £6m deal with Tube Lines

Speedy has signed a two-year/ВЈ6m sole supplier agreement with Tube Lines, the company maintaining and upgrading the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines on the London Underground.

Under the deal Speedy will provide Tube Lines with a range of tools and equipment including lifting gear, accommodation, communications solutions and bespoke training packages. When required it will also provide specialist equipment such as the acoustic shroud recently supplied for overnight work taking place near the Ritz hotel. 

Philip Constable, Tube Lines’ head of distribution services, said his company has been impressed with Speedy’s service levels, product range, training offering and commitment to health and safety.  “Its environmental and sustainability initiatives were also an important factor in our decision, as we are committed to promoting best practice in this area - Speedy will be using its electric вЂModec’ vehicles to transport additional equipment and tools to site when required.”

Outsourcing company may move call center to downtownMorgan Sindall signs £38m Basildon Sports Village deal

CSCS forgers get 14 years

Three men have been jailed for a total of 14 years for forging document including CSCS cards.

The defendants all lived in Gatehill Gardens in Luton, Karmjit Biryah at number 53, Harnek Biryah in number 38 and Tejpal Singh at number 15, and were each given sentences between three and a half and five and a half years by Luton Crown Court.

The high quality forgeries used the names and the CSCS numbers of genuine cardholders but carried a different photograph, making the forged cards much more difficult to detect. The fake cards were used to secure work for illegal immigrants and the case involved a range of other forged documents including passports. 

CSCS scheme manager Gordon Jenkins said the organisation worked with the police and HMRC to ensure attempts to deceive construction employers were dealt with severely. The introduction of CSCS SmartCard early next year will make fraud more difficult and checking easier, said Jenkins.

Fed acts to limit hikes on credit card interestSES scoops major Woolwich M&E scheme

Seven firms set to deliver £300m Royal Mail framework

Seven firms have been appointed by the Royal Mail to deliver a programme of building works across the UK.

It will initially be a four-year framework, with the option of a two year extension, worth ВЈ40-50m a year and ВЈ240-300m over its lifetime.

The type of works will include the construction of mail centres, delivery offices, regional distribution centres, workshops and depots.

The lucky seven are:

John Sisk & Son Longcross Construction Mace McLaren Construction Miller Construction Volker Fitzpatrick Wates Construction

They will provide new build, extensions, refurbishment and fit out.


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Severn Trent invites bids for 10-year sewerage deal worth £1bn

Severn Trent Water is inviting bids for a 10-year framework to repair and replace sewerage.

The contract is expected to be worth around ВЈ45m a year, but could rise to an annual spend of ВЈ105m, subject to regulatory demands covering private drains and sewers.

Contractors have until 30 October to express an interest in the framework, which will carry a five-year break clause.

The work package will includes managing planned and unplanned sewerage services within Severn Trent Waste Water.

The successful framework contractor will be expected to use no-dig techniques, sewer patch and re-line repairs to maintain sewers and rising mains.

The framework spend could rise in response to new private drains and sewers legislation.

Laing O’Rourke takes half of all public sector work in JulyFlat incomes raise concern for recovery

Monday, September 28, 2009

Osborne wins Brighton road deal

Osborne has won a contract to deliver the ВЈ5m-worth of improvements to the A27/Lewes Road junction in Brighton.

Work on the A27/Lewes Road improvements will begin in October 2009.

The junction improvements are a condition of the planning permission for Brighton & Hove Albion’s £93m Community Stadium development and will enable the opening of the stadium in time for the start of the 2011/12 season.

Works include a new bridge for the road into the city, a new road into the University of Sussex and closure of the existing entrance on the A27 into the University.

The job has been funded by the South East England Development Agency.

The work, which will begin next month, is expected to take around 12 months. 

BAM Nuttall takes £20m Fareham bus route jobChristian publisher Howard Books moves to Brentwood

Osborne wins Brighton road deal

Osborne has won a contract to deliver the ВЈ5m-worth of improvements to the A27/Lewes Road junction in Brighton.

Work on the A27/Lewes Road improvements will begin in October 2009.

The junction improvements are a condition of the planning permission for Brighton & Hove Albion’s £93m Community Stadium development and will enable the opening of the stadium in time for the start of the 2011/12 season.

Works include a new bridge for the road into the city, a new road into the University of Sussex and closure of the existing entrance on the A27 into the University.

The job has been funded by the South East England Development Agency.

The work, which will begin next month, is expected to take around 12 months. 

Christian publisher Howard Books moves to BrentwoodBAM Nuttall takes £20m Fareham bus route job

VIDEO: Ford's new Transit Connect road-tested

Ford's new Transit Connect TDCI 110 gets the road test treatment from's sister website

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VIDEO: Ford's new Transit Connect road-tested

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Arsenal homes raise as much cash as matches

Arsenal made nearly as much money from property sales last year as it did from people coming to watch matches at the Emirates Stadium.

Results for the year to May 2009 show the club completed the sale of 208 private apartments at its Highbury Square site raising ВЈ88m compared to ВЈ100m of match day revenue.

The north London club redeveloped its old Highbury home into apartments to help fund construction of the Emirates Stadium.
Non-executive chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "We have always been confident of the outstanding quality and unique character of the Highbury Square project.

"Approaching 70 per cent of the 655 private apartments at Highbury Square have now completed sale and the related bank loan has been reduced from ВЈ137 million to ВЈ47 million. We believe that the development has outperformed the market and is now on a secure footing which should allow us to maximise our final return."

Merton Priory Homes invites tenders for ВЈ200m R&M dealGiarratana tries to sell Nashville properties

Arsenal homes raise as much cash as matches

Arsenal made nearly as much money from property sales last year as it did from people coming to watch matches at the Emirates Stadium.

Results for the year to May 2009 show the club completed the sale of 208 private apartments at its Highbury Square site raising ВЈ88m compared to ВЈ100m of match day revenue.

The north London club redeveloped its old Highbury home into apartments to help fund construction of the Emirates Stadium.
Non-executive chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "We have always been confident of the outstanding quality and unique character of the Highbury Square project.

"Approaching 70 per cent of the 655 private apartments at Highbury Square have now completed sale and the related bank loan has been reduced from ВЈ137 million to ВЈ47 million. We believe that the development has outperformed the market and is now on a secure footing which should allow us to maximise our final return."

Giarratana tries to sell Nashville propertiesMerton Priory Homes invites tenders for ВЈ200m R&M deal

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bid-rigging: Innocent firms set to pursue OFT

Innocent contractors Adonis ConstructionChase Norton Construction, including parent Chase MidlandEG CarterFrank GalliersGeorge Law and parent company Bosworth & WakefordJ GuestPiper Construction (Midlands) and parent company Piper Securities Robert Bruce ConstructionSpicers (Building)

Contractors cleared of any wrong-doing in the OFT bid-rigging investigation are considering compensation claims for the cost of proving their innocence.

And small and medium-sized firms hit with fines are planning to appeal following fears that the swingeing penalties could send them under.

Nine firms originally named by the OFT (see box) were officially cleared last week as the competition watchdog imposed fines totalling ВЈ129.5m on 103 construction firms found guilty of bid-rigging and cover pricing.


Innocent firms set to pursue OFT


One source at a cleared contractor said: "We are asking our lawyers to look at the chance of recovering legal costs spent defending this action.

"We felt the whole process was a bit of a kangaroo court and we were presumed guilty throughout the whole process.

"There was absolutely nothing in it as far as we are concerned and it has cost us a sizeable amount in fees and legal costs as well as the damage to our reputation. We are very unhappy about the whole process."

Contractors found guilty by the OFT have two months to decide on an appeal.

Richard Diment , director general of the Federation of Master Builders, said: "It is a bit early to pick up exactly what contractors are doing, but they are probably going for more specialist advice and our members are working with legal experts."

One industry expert said: "I am not sure if some of the smaller local companies will survive. They could go bust in the current climate because of the size of the fines they have been hit with.

"That will also have a knock-on affect for payments to subcontractors and suppliers."

Eighty-six out of the 103 firms have received reductions in their penalties because they came clean about their involvement.

But contractors cleared in the investigation have been critical of how the probe was handled.

One innocent builder said: "I think some of the evidence was really slight. Some of it was just about an innocent conversation one of our estimators had three years ago.

"We invited the OFT in to inspect our tender files because we could find nothing.

"One company we knew came clean and turned over everything in return for leniency. They had been keeping records of companies they were speaking to but often that consisted of little more than tender lists, which are freely available.

"Just because you are on a tender list doesn't mean you are colluding - but because one firm admitted to that they assumed everyone on those lists was guilty. We were simply listed as a tendering contractor but were then presumed guilty from that, which is totally unfair."

Industry leaders are also monitoring the behaviour of clients to make sure firms caught up in the OFT probe are not discriminated against.

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UKCG, said: "We will be closely monitoring the reaction of public sector clients. The OFT has made it crystal clear that clients should not exclude contractors and we will make sure this does not happen."

Bid-rigging: OFT urges clients not to exclude guilty contractorsLaw firms court clients with flat fees

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tories vow to cut HCA spending

Tory party leaders are planning massive cost cuts at the Homes and Communities Agency if they win the next election.

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps launched an attack on industry quangos during a speech to the National Housing Federation annual conference.

He warned that groups like the HCA and the Tenants Services Authority would face cuts in their operational budgets.

He claimed the HCA cost ВЈ4.5m a month in salaries and occupies 20 offices nationwide, "duplicating" the TSA.

Shapps said: "Every quango is going to have to look very carefully at the way it's working."

Seddon profit plummets 89%Nashville business tenants benefit from landlords’ deals

Merton Priory Homes invites tenders for ВЈ200m R&M deal

Merton Priory Homes is seeking bidders for a 10-year/ВЈ200m contract for the repair and maintenance of almost 9,000 homes.

London: Construction work

From March 2010 the new organisation will take responsibility for Merton’s housing stock of over 6,300 tenanted homes and more than 2,500 leasehold homes across the geographical areas of Merton, Mitcham and Wimbledon.

The organisation is seeking experienced contractors to deliver a full range of repairs and replacements both external and internal including structural, roofing, electrical, plumbing, flooring, asbestos management, fire protection and fencing. It is currently sending out questionnaires to interested parties for replies by 6 November and expects to invite between five and eight companies to tender for the work.

Lovell wins £24m social housing dealClayton fights decline in manufactured homes

Appplications to build new homes rise

Applications to build new homes have risen for the sixth quarter in a row.

The National House Building Council (NHBC) siad that it received 24,246 applications to build new homes in the UK in the three months from June to August 2009.

The figure represents a 2.5% increase on the previous rolling quarter (23,661).

The body said that it had seen an improvement on the last rolling quarter in around half of the regions across the UK.

Applications in some areas of the country were up substantially on the same period in the previous year. Wales saw and 18% increase, while the North East registered a 16% rise. But applications in London fell 29%.

Imtiaz Farookhi, NHBC chief executive, said: “The sector is undergoing a period of consolidation after a very challenging year.  The autumn is a significant time, as we will be able to take a view of the market in light of improving economic indicators and the resulting effect on the sector’s confidence.” 

Mulalley secures ВЈ17m One Housing schemeHome auctions increasingly help banks shed foreclosures

Friday, September 25, 2009

JCB plans 'non-production week' for five manufacturing plants

JCB is to suspend production for a week at its two factories in Wrexham, as well as asking workers to down tools for an extra week at three of its Staffordshire facilities.

The move comes in response to a prolonged downturn in the UK plant market.

The two JCB Transmissions plants in Wrexham will cease production for a week from 5 October.

There will also be an extra "non-production" week at three facilities in Staffordshire: The World HQ, Rocester; JCB Earthmovers, Cheadle and JCB Cab Systems, Rugeley.

A JCB spokesman said: "JCB proposed taking a non-production week in early October at some of its UK manufacturing plants to help ensure production stayed aligned to demand for the remainder of 2009. This proposal, which affects shop floor employees and production related-staff, has been the subject of full consultation with the GMB union. Employees will still be paid for the week off, but they will repay their 39 hours by working without pay for an hour every week for the next 39 weeks.


JCB plans non-production week for five manufacturing plants


"While many commentators are reporting some positive signals, we are not seeing any indications of an upturn at the moment. However the rate of decline the construction equipment sector has experienced over the past 12 months has slowed significantly. We are hopeful we may have found the bottom but are mindful that the recovery will be a slow process."

JCB's Heavy Products division in Uttoxeter (makers of wheeled and tracked excavators), and its JCB Compact Products business in Cheadle (manufacturers of micro and mini excavators and skid steer loaders) are unaffected.

GM to increase output at factories in Michigan, Indiana, KansasSES lands £16m waste package

Viridor buys London Recycling

Viridor has bought waste firm London Recycling, which will become known as Viridor London Recycling.

London Recycling facilities and services that will continue under Viridor London Recycling include:

the fleet of collection vehicles;
the waste electrical and electronic facility (WEEE);
paper processing;
confidential destruction;
waste materials recycling facility (MRF); and
the waste auditing facility.

Commenting on the acquisition, Mike Hellings, Managing Director of Viridor Waste Management said, “The UK’s waste strategies demand ever-increasing levels of recycling.  London Recycling has an excellent track record over recent years in providing essential recycling services to businesses in the Capital.  Their innovative and professional approach will fit very well with the Viridor culture and we look forward to welcoming and working with our new colleagues.”

SES lands £16m waste packageExperts point out where good buys might be

Shepherd appoints Richard Fielding as construction director

Shepherd Construction has appointed a Richard Fielding as construction director of its western division.

Fielding, who will be based from Shepherd's Birmingham office, is tasked with overseeing and expanding its operations in the division.

Fielding was previously a regional director with Mansell.

Commenting on his appointment he said: “We are in discussions over a number of high profile projects coming up in the region. Our focus on working proactively with clients to understand and meet their needs is key and I look forward to building new relationships across the Midlands."

‘Redneck’ court fight: Hit songwriters sue ATV park over nameSES scoops major Woolwich M&E scheme

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ISG gets go-ahead to start £16.2m Wythenshawe college

ISG is set to start the construction of a ВЈ16.2m sixth form college in Wythenshawe, Manchester, for The Manchester College after the project received approval of capital grant support from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The project was one of just 13 stalled college projects to be given support by the LSC to progress to the next stage of development, after the ВЈ3.5bn programme hit the buffers late last year after it ran out of funding, leaving 144 schemes awaiting approval.

Meanwhile, property consultancy Drivers Jonas has managed the selection of Quarmby Construction to create £6.2m of additional sixth form facilities on Rochdale Road in Harpurhey, and Wates to undertake £6.4m of internal and external refurbishment work on The Manchester College’s existing buildings at the site.


ISG gets go-ahead to start £16.2m Wythenshawe college


Steve Jordan, partner of Drivers Jonas Manchester, said: “The near £45m investment in these three projects is a significant boost to the city’s educational infrastructure and regeneration to the communities in which they will be built in.

“Each contractor has been carefully selected to construct cutting edge facilities based on innovative designs which our team developed in close collaboration with The Manchester College. We will continue to work with college and its various stakeholders, as well as the firms involved, to ensure the schemes are successfully delivered.”      

Principal of The Manchester College Peter Tavernor said: “It is fantastic news that we have received the go ahead to get started on these much needed and eagerly awaited projects, as they will help improve training and employment opportunities for local people and assist in the regeneration of the city of Manchester. We are confident that with the Design Team we have in place, we will be able to deliver on time, within budget and to our usual award-winning standard.”

Business briefs: Ford adds third shift due to demandCo-op seeks planning for landmark Manchester headquarters

Rok wins £40m repairs contract

Rok has won a ВЈ40m contract from insurance firm Liverpool Victoria to provide building-repair services.
The three-year deal will see Rok offer an improved claims validation and repairs service to Liverpool Victoria's buildings insurance clients.

Commenting on the latest agreement, Rok’s chief executive, Garvis Snook, said:

“We recognise LV= is continually striving to provide improvements in services for its policyholders and we are delighted to assist in this process, having been selected for its panel of building repairs suppliers.

“This agreement follows the significant investment of time and resources that we have made over the past two years while developing Rok Insurance Services; hard work which I am proud to say has secured our place as the market leader in buildings insurance repairs.”

Bam Construction wins Co-op headquarters contractMurfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is complete

22 construction workers killed in Indian chimney collapse

At least 22 construction workers have been killed and scores are feared trapped after a building collapsed in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

Officials said that a chimney caved in on more than 100 workers during construction work at a thermal power plant.

The accident happened in the town of Korba, 250km (155 miles) from the state capital, Raipur yesterday.

The plant is being built by Bharat Aluminium Co Ltd (Balco).

Balco is a unit of London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta Plc, whose business activities are mostly in India.

"It's a massive accident," Ratanlal Dangi, district superintendent of police, told Reuters news agency.

"We have retrieved 20 bodies so far. Still many more are trapped under the collapsed chimney's debris. Massive rescue and relief operations are under way."


22 construction workers killed in Indian chimney collapse


Rescue workers are still trying to reach those still trapped underneath the rubble.

They are being helped by other construction workers as well as local residents.

The families of many missing workers have gathered at the site waiting anxiously for word of their relatives.

It is still not clear what caused the accident. All the reports say the area has been experiencing heavy rain and storms.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said a judicial investigation had been ordered into the accident.

He also announced compensation for the victims

State officials said the management of the company building the plant are likely to face charges.

A recent report by the UN's International Labour Organisation said that nearly 50,000 Indians die from work-related accidents or illness every year.

Construction worker killed by life jacketGM to increase output at factories in Michigan, Indiana, Kansas

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thirteen chase ВЈ1.15bn electricity contract

Thirteen bidders have made the frame for a chance to own and operate ВЈ1.15bn worth of transmission links connecting offshore windfarms to the national grid.

The firms will now take part in a competitive tender to operate high-voltage transmission links with nine planned offshore windfarms.

Energy regulator Ofgem revealed the list today for nine high-voltage transmission links with the potential to connect up to 2,000 megawatts of renewable electricity.

The tender round will run until March/April 2010 when the successful firms will be announced.

Ofgem’s Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan, said: "Offshore generation has a crucial role to play if Britain is to meet its climate change targets. That is why selecting the first thirteen firms to bid for the ownership and operation of £1.15 billion of high-voltage transmission links is so important.


Thirteen chase ВЈ1.15bn electricity contract


"The quality of the firms selected for the tender round shows how strong the competition is to operate these offshore transmission links."

A second round for assets that are built, under construction, or at an advanced preconstruction stage, will be held in summer 2010. Companies which are successful in both of these tender rounds will take ownership of the transmission link once it is constructed. They will then run it and in return will receive a stable, regulated income for 20 years.

Bidders that have qualified to proceed to the Qualification to Tender stage are:

ABN Amro Infrastructure Capital Management Ltd

Balfour Beatty Capital Limited

DONG Energy Sales and Distribution A/S

Equitix (a consortium of Equitix and AMP)

ESB International Limited

Frontier Power Consortium (a consortium of Frontier Power Limited and Infracapital Partners LP)

Imera Limited

Macquarie Capital Group Limited

National Grid Offshore Limited

RWE Npower plc

SSE Offshore Transmission Limited

A consortium of Stakraft UK Limited and StatoilHydro UK Holdings Limited

Transmission Capital Partners (a consortium of International Public Partnerships Limited, Transmission Capital Limited and Amber Infrastructure Limited)

change:healthcare chosen to support research effortFive chase £120m Network Rail office development

Third of firms entering new sectors don't have adequate insurance

Over a third of all construction firms are working without sufficient insurance cover, after switching to new sectors in a bid to ride out the recession.

That's the warning to come out of research commissioned by insurance firm Quinn Insurance.

The research highlighted that of all the businesses that had diversified into new areas of business in order to survive, only three quarters knew if they will be covered by their existing insurance cover.

London (38%) and East Anglia (37%) have the greatest number of construction businesses claiming to have move into new business areas.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland (85%), the West Midlands (81%) and the North East (80%) are most at risk when working beyond their stated remit, as they have the highest number of businesses operating without knowing if the trade description on their policy covers new areas of business. 


Third of firms entering new sectors dont have adequate insurance


The survey also found that trades most frequently diversifying into other areas of business are scaffolding contractors (48%), roofing contractors (44%) and commercial builders (42%).   

Richard Stafford, Commercial Director of Quinn Insurance, said:

“The recession is forcing many in construction to seek extra streams of revenue wherever they can.  However, the number of businesses which start a job without ensuring that they are insured for this new trade is worrying, and even more concerning that so many businesses are not even aware of the risks involved of working outside of your stated trade description on insurance documents.

“We would advise any client to check their policy cover small print carefully before seeking to undertake a job outside of the business’ typical area of expertise.  Equally, concerned construction companies should seek assistance from their insurance broker if they are unsure.”

What kind of business do you want to start?Specialist job toll could rise to 250,000

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lovell, Mitie and Breyer win delayed ВЈ35m decent homes framework

Lovell Partnerships, Mitie Property Services and Breyer group have gained places on Redbridge Council's ВЈ35m decent homes framework.

The work was advertised in July 2008 but has only now been let, despite the original start date intended for April. It includes refurbishment of kitchens, bathrooms, heating electrics and front entrance doors.

The contractors will carry out the work on a geographical basis across 4,500 of the council owned properties over four years.

Clayton fights decline in manufactured homesLovell wins £24m social housing deal

Dawn wins ВЈ7.5m Glasgow mental health deal

Dawn Construction has won a ВЈ7.5m Mental Health Partnerships scheme for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde through the NHS Frameworks Scotland scheme.

The work will involve a redesign and development of mental health services including plans to increase beds and support accommodation facilities in Dykebar Hospital, Inverclyde Short Stay Psychiatric Unit and Leverndale Hospital.

Plans currently under discussion include the proposed refurbishment of the acute admissions ward and forensic ward at Dykebar, the extension and upgrading of the Inverclyde short stay psychiatric unit and a new facility to be built at Leverndale to accommodate increased bed numbers and support services.

The project is part of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s strategy to restructure its services in the South Clyde area, modernising its services to provide a high quality of care designed to meet patients’ needs.


Dawn wins ВЈ7.5m Glasgow mental health deal


Dawn is a Principal Supply Chain Partner for the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s mental health project.

The NHS Frameworks Scotland scheme was introduced to create a flexible partnering approach to the procurement of publicly-funded construction work, to build or refurbish healthcare facilities across all of Scotland’s NHS Health Boards over the next four years.

Dawn bids for NHS work through Frameworks Scotland as part of a JV with Robertson Group formed a JV called RD Health.

Galliford Try wins ВЈ48.6m of health workFormer Saint Thomas CEO to run Texas hospital system

Bid-rigging: OFT urges clients not to exclude guilty contractors

The Office of Fair Trading has issued a statement urging clients not to automatically exclude contractors who have been fined after being found guilty of bid-rigging.

Read the full statement here

The OFT said it "had to focus its investigation on a limited number of companies and instances where the available evidence was
strongest, in order to make best use of its resources and conclude its investigation within a reasonable timeframe. The OFT could not, therefore, pursue every firm suspected of involvement in cover pricing.

"Moreover, the endemic nature of the practice within the industry suggests that many other companies are likely to have been involved in bid rigging, even though such activity remained undetected. For this reason, it cannot be assumed that the Parties are the only companies that may have engaged in cover pricing.


OFT urges clients not to exclude guilty contractors


"In light of the above, it is the recommendation of both the OFT and the OGC, that the Parties should not be excluded  automatically from future tenders on the grounds that they are Parties to the Decision, or be the subject of similar adverse measures making it more difficult for them to qualify for such tenders.

"Public authorities are advised to consider the specifics of their procurement, as well as the points outlined below, in deciding the most appropriate course of action on a case by case basis.

"The OFT considers that the following factors are relevant to the above:

"The Parties have received significant financial penalties appropriate to the infringement findings in the Decision; "It would be wrong automatically to assume that construction companies that are not named in the Decision have not also been involved in bid rigging; "As a result of the OFT’s investigation, the Parties can be expected to be particularly aware of the competition rules and the need for compliance and, if anything, are more likely to be compliant; and "Many of the Parties have cooperated fully with the OFT’s investigation and a significant proportion have taken measures to introduce or reinforce formal compliance programmes and to ensure that their staff are aware of their competition law obligations."

Fraud cops probe UK overseas dealsLaw firms court clients with flat fees

Monday, September 21, 2009

TV star's Lego house faces ВЈ50,000 demolition

A Lego house built by BBC presenter James May faces demolition after plans for Legoland to buy it collapsed.

The house, made for BBC Two series Toy Stories, which May hosts, will be knocked down on Tuesday if a new owner cannot be found.

Dismantling and reassembling the house will cost about ВЈ50,000, according to the BBC.

Top Gear, where May also works, has launched a campaign to save the house from demolition.

Legoland says it is too expensive to move the house, constructed at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, by 1,000 volunteers.

Building falls on high-reach excavator during demolition - VIDEOWhite House outlines fuel plan

PHOTO: Wates builders take ballet lessons

Wates Construction workers swapped their tools for tutus last week when they took part in a sponsored ballet.

Wates builders take ballet lessons

The builders, who are working on the new Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds, spent a day practising performance dance to raise money for the Prince's Trust, as part of Wates' annual community day.

The site team donned pink stockings and matching tutus, and were taught to plié, jete and pirouette by one of NBT’s dance education officers, Caroline Burn.

Mark Skipper, NBT chief executive said: “The construction team was definitely game for a laugh but I don’t think we have any rising ballet stars amongst them!”

Accounting, finance jobs becoming available in NashvilleIndustry bigwigs attack college chaos

VIDEO: Cat telehandler takes UK's biggest ever puppet for stroll

A Caterpillar telehandler has been used to hold up the UK's biggest ever puppet as it went for a stroll around Edinburgh.

The 'Big Man', based on a mythical Scottish giant, is 8m tall, weighs 600kg and is built from polysytrene and steel.

The Cat telehandler moved the puppet around at 1mph. The Big Man will be touring towns and cities across the rest of Scotland.

Corus hikes structural steel prices by £25-a-tonneBailed-out banks just got bigger

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three former Alfred McAlpine directors jailed

Three former Alfred McAlpine Slate directors were jailed today after deliberately overstating the sales and production figures of the division by ВЈ10m.

Around 44% of the company’s reported debtors were fiction, the Serious Fraud Office said.

Former managing director Christopher John Law was jailed for two-and-a-half years. Geraint Roberts, former operations director for the roofing division of Welsh Slate received a 16 month sentence. And Paul Michael Harvey, a former sales director got 10 months.

The Serious Fraud Office said that an example of the directors' deception included showing auditors a stockpile of crates of roofing slate; the outer crates were full but the inner crates empty.


Three former Alfred McAlpine directors jailed


Customer letters were created to give impression that debtors’ payments were in the pipeline, delivery notes and transportation invoices for non-existent consignments were forged.

Alfred McAlpine Slate (known as “Welsh Slate”) was wholly owned by Alfred McAlpine. It represented about 2-3% of the company’s turnover and employed around 400 workers at its quarry near Bangor.

Welsh Slate was a self contained operation, seen by the parent company as low risk. However, in February 2007, Alfred McAlpine informed the stock market it had uncovered systematic deception.

The company also handed over the results of its internal investigation into its subsidiary to North Wales Police, who alerted the SFO.

A joint SFO/police investigation opened in September 2007. In November the following year, the three Welsh Slate executives were charged. All three subsequently pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and were sentence today at Caernarfon Crown Court.

Directorship bans, payment toward prosecution costs also apply and confiscation proceedings will follow.


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Bam Construction wins Co-op headquarters contract

BAM Construction has won the £100m contract to build the Co-op’s new flagship headquarters near Victoria Station in Central Manchester.

The scheme, part of a wider redevelopment of the group’s Miller Street campus, is a 15-storey block with 30,000mВІ of offices. Construction is expected to start at the beginning of next year. 

It will serve the Co-op’s retail arm and is designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe.

The huge building is the first phase in a 20-acre regeneration project around Miller Street, for which an Arup-designed masterplan has already been endorsed by the city council.

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Education work helps Balfour Beatty top August's CJ50

Balfour Beatty came top of the class in the August CJ50 contracts league, after closing the ВЈ250m Stoke Building Schools for the Future deal.

The contracting giant was chosen, along with Wates and Thomas Vale, for the programme which involves the building and refurbishment of secondary and special schools throughout the city, and includes five brand new academies.

View the August 2009 CJ50 contracts league tableView the 12-month rolling table

Balfour also made a splash in the water sector, taking a ВЈ100m alliance contract from South West Water.

In total, the contractor won 82 deals during August, worth over ВЈ718m.

Bovis Lend Lease finished 2nd on the back of two other BSF deals, secured through its PFI business Catalyst: the ВЈ180m first phase of Birmingham; and the ВЈ55m third phase of East Lancashire.


Education work helps Balfour Beatty top Augusts CJ50


Bovis picked up another education contract from East Lancashire LEP: the ВЈ16m Accrington Academy.

Another BSF contract helped Amey secure third spot. The firm has been appointed to Bradford City Council’s second phase, and will provid the ICT and FM aspects, worth £148m.

Galliford Try checked in to fourth spot, after booking a ВЈ16m contract to extend Heythorp Park Hotel in Oxfordshire. The firm also won a ВЈ60m asset enhancement framework with Network Rail.

Kier finished fifth, winning 21 contracts worth just shy of ВЈ100m.

Sixth-placed Apollo had an excellent month, taking 11 deals totalling ВЈ95m, the pick a ВЈ63m social housing contract with Rykneld Homes in Derbyshire.

Willmott Dixon came in seventh, winning the ВЈ30m Hope Academy from St Helens Council, plus a new civil hall for Guildford Borough Council in Surrey, valued at ВЈ20m.

Laing O’Rourke finished eighth, winning £85m-worth of new work. Its biggest contracts included a £55m faculty building for Bristol University’s bioscience and mathematics departments, and a new student union for Coventry University, worth £24m.

Volker Wessels took ninth spot, winning a £28m clean-up contract at Chesterfield’s Avenue Coking Works, from the East Midlands Development Agency.

Tenth-place Morgan Sindall’s biggest contract of the month was a £20m estate regeneration deal from First Wessex Housing Association in Eastleigh.

Other big contracts signed in August included: Sisk’s £25m deal to rebuild Weston-Super-Mare’s Grand Pier; FM Conway’s £54m infrastucture term maintenance contract with Hammersmith & Fulham Council; and a £16m social housing job for Durkan in Harrow, with Network Housing Group.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clients' tickbox mentality to bidding threatens future of local firms

The public sector's obsessive tickbox approach towards letting new work threatens to drive long-established regional firms out of business.

That is the stark warning from Neil Edwards, chief executive of contracts information specialist The Builders Conference, after research showed local firms with proven track-records are missing out on work across the country.

Edwards said: "The present method of procurment by public bodies is restricting recovery and growth in the construction market."

The value of tenders bid in August leaped from ВЈ1.8bn in 2008 to ВЈ4.8bn this year, with education accounting for half the sum recorded by the Builders Conference.

"Previously, a roofing contractor could have happily tendered for ВЈ200,000 contract to replace the roof of a local school. But now that would be in a big multi-million pound framework agreement. A proven experienced local firm wouldn't even make it on to the tender list now.


Clients tickbox mentality to bidding threatens future of local firms


Edwards said that today the whole process is prescribed by a checklist and scoring system, which procurement chiefs cannot use firms that have faultlessly worked for them for many years.

He added: "There was a time when procurement professionals were allowed the freedom to innovate and eek out the best way yo get a job done.

"My fear is that the sector has shifted so far in favour of the major players that, in future, SMEs and even ВЈ20m-plus contractors will have no choice but to work as subcontractors."



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Unite raises £82m to build more student blocks

Student accommodation specialist Unite is planning to raise ВЈ82m via a share issue to fund a construction programme across London.

The money will used to fund the acquisition of new development sites between now and early 2011 in the capital which are intended to be developed for delivery from 2012 onwards.

Unite directors said the opportunities for more student accommodation in London are "compelling" and "there is potential to acquire well-located sites at attractive prices which can then be developed to meet the ongoing shortage of modern purpose-built student accommodation in the city."

Phil White, chairman of Unite, said: "The supply of good quality, well-located student accommodation continues to lag behind demand. Across the UK, there is only sufficient purpose-built accommodation to house two out of three first year or overseas students, but there is only one bed space for every three students from these groups in London.


Unite raises £82m to build more student blocks


"In this context, the Board believes that London represents a particularly attractive market for expansion, with over 250,000 full time students but only 42,000 purpose-built bed spaces.

"We intend to use the proceeds of the placing to acquire sites which will form the core of the company's development programme for completion from 2012 onwards. We believe that the Company is well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities while the current market conditions prevail."

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Call to abolish retentions

Construction risk specialist CR Management is calling for retentions to be abolished across the industry.

Experts at the firm believe the collection of retention funds by main contractors is becoming increasingly problematic with employers refusing to accept that defects have been cleared.

Employers are also accused of hiding behind "trifling excuses" to avoid paying out cash which rightfully belongs to the contractor and its suppliers.

CR Management has worked with a number of contractors who are owed more than ВЈ1m in retention cash.

CR wants to abolish retentions and instead pay valuations gross so even if the employer goes into liquidation the money is safe and both main contractor and subcontractors will have collected what they are owed.


Call to abolish retentions


Jason Farnell, Partner of CR Management said: "The industry needs to embrace a modern way of dealing with retentions. Everyone is suffering all down the chain, from the largest contractors to the smallest sub contractors.  The retentions have been earned so they should be passed down.

"All retention money does is protect the employer against problems, but there are better ways of doing this that would deal with the underlying issue and the particular company responsible rather than penalising the whole supply chain.

"At the very minimum contractors should insist on retention monies being set aside in separate trust accounts and resist any contract amendments that would remove this right.  Likewise sub-contractors would do well to request that the contractor obtains this right on their behalf. 

"However, the ideal would be to avoid retention funds and seek alternative forms of security, such as bonds, then, rather than wasting industry resources collecting, administering and disbursing retention, we can deal with the real issues of value and quality. Therefore we call for an abolition of retentions and a more enlightened approach to disbursing cash and addressing performance risks."

Phil Mickelson loses hunger for SouthEast WafflesCivil engineering accidents at record low

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mass vote on 3% pay offer to stop strikes

Thousands of engineering construction workers will vote next week on whether to abandon plans for a national strike which could cripple power plants across the country.

Hopes of averting a strike were raised yesterday when shop stewards voted to recommend the employers’ latest offer to the workforce to improve pay and conditions.

The deal is for a guaranteed pay rise of at least 3% over the next two years.

But the shop stewards’ backing was only agreed by a small majority during an all-day meeting in Manchester.

One union source said: "It was a close run thing and there was a lively debate which went on for hours. It’s going to be a tough call over which way the workers on the shop floor vote over this."


Mass vote on 3% pay offer to stop strikes


Members of the Unite and GMB unions are now being balloted on accepting a deal for improved terms under the Naeci "blue book" agreement. Ballot papers are due to be returned by Friday with the results due next week.

The vote follows months of unrest and unofficial stoppages over industry conditions and the continued use of cheap foreign labour.

One site activist said: "Even if a full-scale strike is called off I can see plenty more local disputes erupting over the foreign worker issue."

Unite assistant general secretary, Les Bayliss, said: "Following months of intense negotiations, the union is now in a position to recommend an offer from the employers to thousands of workers in the construction industry.

"If the offer is accepted by the workers there is the opportunity for industrial peace in an industry which has been plagued by unrest, thanks to certain unscrupulous employers.

"With a significant number of new build projects on the horizon, the construction industry is hugely important to the UK economy and will help bring the UK out of recession. If the offer is accepted, it's in everyone's interest to make the agreement work."

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Galliford Try expands into Qatar

Galliford Try is opening a new division in Qatar to take advantage of huge opportunities in improving the local infrastructure.

The Galliford Try Qatar LLC operation will focus on infrastructure projects in the public and regulated sectors in joint venture venture with MFH, a wholly owned Qatari company also based in Doha.

Colin Crumlin, managing director of Galliford Try International said: "Development in Qatar is taking place in a planned and controlled way with substantial government funding and therefore presents a better opportunity for our international growth than other more mature commercial markets in the Middle East.

"Even if building in Qatar stopped tomorrow it would take about 10 years for infrastructure to catch up so there’s plenty of work out there."


Galliford Try expands into Qatar


Heading up the Qatar operation is regional director Tony Williams who has more than 20 years experience overseas in countries such as Ghana, Oman and Russia. He also joins the board of Galliford Try International.

Crumlin said: "We are currently considering further directions in which we can expand our international operations."

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Construction worker killed by life jacket

A jury at an inquest into the death of a construction worker on a collapsed barge platform in Pembrokeshire has recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Adrianus Van Ham, 44, drowned in the incident at South Hook liquefied natural gas (LNG) after getting trapped inside a cabin by his life jacket.

The BBC reported that the inquest at Haverfordwest heard one of the legs of the platform at Milford Haven had risen too high from the seabed.

A safety inspector said they had found no mechanical fault.

The men in charge of the platform said there were problems with its stability.

They had also had problems with the controls, the hearing was told.

Barge master Archie Keenan and his assistant John Smith had already said there were problems because of the platform's size - it was very small, yet carried a huge crane.


Construction worker killed by life jacket


A Health and Safety Executive inspector told the inquest they had not found any mechanical fault with the platform.

But the inspector admitted the controls had not worked satisfactorily that day.

Mr Van Ham, a trainee barge master, was killed on 6 October 2007 when he became trapped in the submerged control cabin by his self-inflating life jacket.

The jury had to choose whether he died by accident or misadventure

Nashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growthEDF Energy Contracting fined after worked killed in fall

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Balfour set to buy Parsons Brinckerhoff for £380m

Balfour Beatty is to buy Parsons Brinckerhoff for ВЈ380m.

The news follows an announcement earlier this morning that Balfour was set to tap investors through a ВЈ353m rights issue to pay for an acquisition.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is an US-based firm focused on infrastructure. It has a network of over 100 offices and over 12,500 employees and a revenue ВЈ1.42bn.

Balfour said that the move would give it a "leading position" in the US civils market allow it to create a global professional services group with over 14,000 employees.

Commenting on the acquisition today, Balfour Beatty chief executive Ian Tyler said:

"The acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff represents the realisation of a number of key strategic objectives for Balfour Beatty. In particular, we believe it makes us one of the world's major players in professional services, substantially strengthens our US presence and puts Balfour Beatty in an excellent position to take advantage of increased infrastructure spending.  It is a key step in becoming a global integrated leader in infrastructure services."


Balfour set to buy Parsons Brinckerhoff for £380m


Keith Hawksworth, chief executive officer of Parsons Brinckerhoff, said

"We are delighted to be joining the Balfour Beatty Group. We believe there is a clear fit between our two closely-aligned companies. We are very enthusiastic about what we see as the enormous potential that can be realised by working together in the future."

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Manitou posts big first half loss

Manitou Group has reported a first half loss of ВЈ83.5m against a ВЈ43.2m profit in the same period last year. This includes ВЈ55.9m for restructuring and impairment costs.

It made an operating loss of ВЈ36.5m (with Gehl losing ВЈ25.6m) against a profit of ВЈ67.6m in the first half of 2008. Group sales have halved to ВЈ319m and order levels are down by almost three quarters.

However the company said it has reduced net debt by almost a quarter (to ВЈ319m) and general expenses by a similar amount. The headcount has been cut by 16% with a 32% decrease in available man hours because of short time working.

Manitou said business is unlikely to pick up in the short to medium term and it will concentrate on stabilizing its operating results, lowering its breakeven point and reducing debt.

Lavendon posts £40m pre-tax lossGenesco posts $2.7 million second quarter net loss

Utilities drought hits VolkerWessels UK

Falling workloads in the commercial building and utilities markets have depressed turnover at VolkerWessels UK.

The firm's Dutch parent company posted half-year results for the entire group showing a net profit of ВЈ22.5m on turnover of ВЈ1.77bn.

Figures for last year were not released by the firm because it has changed reporting practices during the past 12 months.

Turnover in the UK division - which includes Volker Fitzpatrick, Volker Rail and Volker Highways - was ВЈ243m

The company said: "In the civil engineering roads and building UK sector results for the first half of 2009 have lagged behind the first half of 2008.

"In particular industrial and utility building are under pressure because of low market volumes. The roads and civil engineering sectors performed well in sound markets.

"The result for the entire year 2009 is expecetd to be lower as a result of the pressure on volumes in industrial and utility building and the provisions for reorganisation."

Outsourcing company may move call center to downtownCivil engineering accidents at record low

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CCG buys industrial site for ВЈ4.7m to boost off-site manufacture

CCG Group has bought a distribution warehouse in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, for ВЈ4.7m.

CCG indicated it signed the deal because it wants to use the site to expand its operations and use the warehouse as a base for its off-site manufacturing operations.

The BBC said the transaction was one of Scotland's largest industrial sales of 2009.

Alastair Wylie, the managing director of CCG Group, said: "We were assessing options for creating a new facility and were keen to consolidate our operations within the Cambuslang Investment Park.

"An opportunity arose to buy a quality building, which met many of our specific requirements, at a figure substantially below what it would of cost to build from new.

"The timescales involved also suited our group, allowing us to bring forward our plans to expand our off-site manufacturing division from a strategic Glasgow base."

Experts point out where good buys might beGB Building wins Chesterfield stadium

Morgan Ashurst wins ВЈ2.2m horse hospital contract

Morgan Ashurst has won a ВЈ2.2m contract to build an equine surgery and create an intensive care unit at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Equine Referral Hospital in North Mymms, Hertfordshire.

The Equine Referral Unit cares for some of the most valuable race horses in the country, as well as other privately-owned animals.

The firm single-storey, steel-framed surgery will accommodate two treatment theatres, recovery boxes, offices and equipment stores.

A monorail hoist will allow staff to move horses easily from the surgery to the recovery areas.

The new building will be connected to the existing Large Animal Clinical Care Centre (LACC), where Morgan Ashurst is providing a mezzanine floor as well as extra examination and consulting rooms. The firm will also modify an existing barn to create an intensive care unit.

The project is due to be completed in January 2010.

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Worker dies repairing wind turbine

A man has died while carrying out maintenance work on a turbine at a wind farm near Thurso, Scotland.

The BBC said emergency services were called to the site at Causeymire off the A9 road at about 0915 this morning.

Police said inquiries were ongoing and no further details were available. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been notified of the incident.

Northern Constabulary said a report would be submitted to the procurator fiscal.

School fees, health costs cancel fall in other pricesBuild Center worker killed by sheet of glass

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Corus hikes structural steel prices by £25-a-tonne

Steel fabricators will need to pass on a ВЈ25-a-tonne price increase to main contractors because of the tight margins the market is operating under.

That was the warning from the constructional steelwork sector, after manufacturer Corus informed fabricators last week it would raise the price of steel sections by ВЈ25-a-tonne from 4 October.

Steel plate will also rise, by ВЈ30- to ВЈ40-a-tonne. Strip products will increase by ВЈ30- to ВЈ50-a-tonne.

“We are seeing more robust demand for our product range, including sections and plate," said Martin Maley, Corus commercial director for long products.

"Demand has been improving from low levels, particularly in the US and Asia, though the rate of recovery in the UK and Europe is expected to be slower. We also believe destocking is nearing its end in many product areas.”


Corus hikes structural steel prices by £25-a-tonne


The price of structural steel has collapsed over the last year, with Billington managing director Steve Fareham estimating it to be half the level of summer 2008, when the market peaked.

"The price appears to have bottomed out now, with stockholders completing their destocking, and now Corus announcing an increase," he said.

"Steelmakers are seeking to increase their prices as they perceive an increase in demand returning," said British Constructional Steelwork Association director general Dr Derek Tordoff.

"Margins are extremely tight and wherever possible steelwork contractors will need to pass on any increases.

"However we will not be returning to the monthly steel price increases seen at times during 2006/7/8 and prices will be much more stable."

"You can expect material prices to start to rise soon, because construction materials producers cannot continue to trade at marginal cost," a construction analyst said.

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Shepherd Group announces £90m refinancing

Shepherd Group has signed a ВЈ90m refinancing deal with HSBC, as part of a bid to continue its plans for growth.

Terry Smith, group finance director at 119-year-old firm, said: “This extensive facility provides us with the flexibility to invest in our business over the coming years. Despite challenging market conditions, we remain well capitalised, and as such we are delighted to be in a position to pursue growth plans.

"As a result of our 40-plus year relationship, HSBC understands our business and our ambitions, and has the unrivalled credentials to support our aspirations. We appreciate their ongoing support.”

David Gregson, HSBC senior corporate banking manager for Yorkshire & North East, said: “HSBC is delighted to be able to provide further support to our long standing customer.

"The facilities – which recognise the group’s financial strength and standing - will allow the management team to pursue their business plans from a sound base and enable them to capitalise on opportunities across their diverse operations.”

SES scoops major Woolwich M&E schemeHealth supplier networks asked to defend policies

Just eight pupils pass Construction Diploma

Just 12 people took the one-year option of the Construction Diploma, while only eight of them passed, CJ has learned.

The news places more doubt over the future of the controversial qualification, designed for GCSE and A-Level pupils aged 14-19, a year after it was launched by Education Minister Ed Balls.

The Diploma generally takes two years to complete, although when pupils signed up to the course in September 2008, they were also given the choice of taking a shorter, one year course.

Around 1,500 students who signed up for the two-year course are expected to receive their results in summer 2010. The Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) estimated around 10,000 students would sign up for each Diploma when they were launched in 2007.


Just eight pupils pass Construction Diploma


Earlier this summer, the Foundation Course (Level I) of the qualification came under fire from schools and training consortia, which were concerned it was "too academic". Many are now thought to be looking at BTEc alternatives.

Commenting on this summer's results, a DCSF spokesman said: "The diploma is a new and challenging qualification with a broad programme of study. Trying to complete it in one year is ambitious and the small group of learners who have been successful in doing this should be congratulated. The vast majority of learners are on a two-year programme and which they are due to complete in summer 2010.

"As only a relatively small numbers of learners have completed Diplomas this year, it is hard to draw too many conclusions from these results. However, we will be looking at patterns in achievement to determine whether and where further support is needed in future."

A ConstructionSkills spokesman said: "We're currently waiting for conclusive figures from the DCSF - we do know that a number of students are waiting to finish their functional skills module, and we are expecting more conclusive data on the success of the Diploma's first year then."

Russells Construction wins ВЈ8.7m hotel jobMurfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is complete

Monday, September 14, 2009

Morgan Sindall signs £38m Basildon Sports Village deal

Morgan Sindall has reached financial close on a ВЈ38m PPP scheme to deliver a sports and leisure complex for Basildon Council.

Basildon Sporting Village, will provide facilities for sports, leisure and education in Gloucester Park, Basildon, and has been identified as a potential training camp for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Facilities will include a 50-metre, eight-lane swimming pool with a viewing area for 450 people, an eight-court multi-purpose sports hall with retractable seating for 480 people, a fully-equipped gymnastics centre, a multi-purpose studio, a 100-workstation health and fitness suite and a climbing wall.

Construction work is due to commence in October 2009 and the project is due for completion in Spring 2011. The PPP contract runs for 25 years.

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£350m national contractor framework up for grabs

Tenders are being invited for the ВЈ350m Scape System Build national contractor framework.

Scape System Build, which is owned and controlled by six local authorities, is looking for contractors to provide construction services for four years to each of the local authorities.

Work will involve the new build and refurbishment of assisted housing, education, universities, further education and training colleges. It will also involve work to transport depots, bus stations, fames, recycling facilities and offices.

The authorities include: Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Gateshead Council, Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and Warwickshire County Council.


Middle Tennessee blood donation collectors to vote on unionRok wins £140m of framework deals

Rok wins £140m of framework deals

Rok has confirmed its appointment on eight new framework arrangements worth up to ВЈ140m of revenue over the next five years.

As revealed last month in CJ, Scottish Water has named Rok as one of 17 companies chosen to help deliver a programme of capital investment valued at around ВЈ2bn from 2010 onwards. Of those companies, Rok is one of only four to be identified for both non-infrastructure and capital maintenance projects as well as for infrastructure contracts, all of which are expected to be worth up to ВЈ60m to Rok over the next five years.

In the South West of England, Rok is one of 11 organisations chosen to be part of a Construction Framework developed by Devon County Council to deliver projects in excess of ВЈ1 million. This framework is expected to generate around ВЈ500m worth of work to those organisations over the next four years from the local authorities, emergency services, further education colleges and other bodies involved.


Rok wins £140m of framework deals


Rok has also won a framework with CityWest Homes, the arms length management organisation that manages Westminster City Council’s 22,000 homes, and in Yorkshire, Rok has been appointed by a consortium of registered social landlords, known as Firebird JVC, to provide new homes over the next four years.

The other framework wins comprise planned and response maintenance for the National Ambulance Service; planned maintenance programmes for Teign Housing in South Devon and Sanctuary Housing nationwide; and heating replacement work for Cardiff County Council.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thousands in tax danger from alleged fraud

Thousands of construction workers are being urged to contact their local tax offices to see if they are victims of an alleged ВЈ6m fraud.

Twenty men and three women were arrested last week in the West Midlands, Staffordshire, London and Manchester following dawn raids by HM Revenue & Customs officers.

All 23 defendants have been bailed until January 2010 while HMRC continues its investigations into charges of conspiracy to cheat the tax man and money laundering.

During the arrests, cash totalling ВЈ130,004 was seized - ВЈ91,600 from nine sites in the West Midlands and ВЈ38,444 from two sites in the Manchester area. A further ВЈ2,000 in dollars and euros were seized.

Paperwork including bank accounts and computers, Class A drugs and associated equipment - scales and dealer apparatus - were also seized in the West Midlands.


Thousands in tax danger from alleged fraud


Thousands of workers are believed to have been robbed during the six-year swindle, which saw labour agencies deduct tax and National Insurance payments from operatives but not pass them on to the Revenue (see box).

Investigators are currently poring over documents and computer records seized during the series of co-ordinated raids on more than 40 premises to discover the extent of the scam.

Apart from the Treasury, the main victims of the fraud will be individual workers who assumed their cash deducted for tax and National Insurance was being passed on to HMRC.

A source close to the investigation said: "The only way for workers to check whether they have any problems with tax and National Insurance contributions is to get in touch with their local tax office.

"It is too early in the investigation to determine how many people will be in that situation but it is our belief that potentially thousands could be affected."

Construction workers who have gaps in their National Insurance record could be hit in the future with lower-than-expected state pension payouts and problems claiming other social security benefits.

How the fraud works

Missing trader fraud is simple in theory - but involves a sustained and well-planned period of deception to net criminals millions.

Labour supply contractors were providing workers to companies and receiving wages on their behalf gross of tax.

Site workers had their tax and National Insurance contributions deducted by the agencies.

But instead of compiling annual returns to HM Revenue & Customs and passing on the tax take, the labour suppliers simply folded the bogus firms and 'disappeared' without passing on a penny to HMRC.

The crooked agencies usually contracted out the work to a second subcontractor, who never actually supplied any labour to site and went missing with all the tax owed.

The first firm then covered the transactions by false paperwork in an attempt to fabricate their tax records and buy time to keep the fraud going.

The swindle is a similar model to one that has blighted the mobile phone and computer chip markets.

Crooks in these sectors exploited loopholes in legislation to pocket VAT money. VAT was only due to be paid by the supplier at the end of the chain for mobile phones and chips.

But fraudsters folded the companies before paying their VAT bill and pocketed the tax they had added on to transactions further down the chain.

One HMRC source said: "This type of fraud is simple in theory but it takes a lot of setting-up and is an elaborate deception.

"We are not talking about tax avoidance here - this is an organised crime gang exploiting the construction industry.

"They have seen an opportunity and exploited the way a lot of the industry operates by subcontracting out work."

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Kier switches to 60-day payment

Kier has admitted extending its payment terms to 60 days.

The firm joins Rok and Carillion, which have also switched from 30-day payments to 60 days.

In a statement Kier said: “Sixty days is a general starting point for payment for some suppliers and subcontractors but we have a sensible commercial decision process that has due regard for the company concerned and the individual circumstances.”

The news of Kier's move to 60 days has renewed fears that smaller firms in the supply chain are being made to bear the brunt of the slump in the construction sector.

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Mace and GB win King's Cross hotel

Mace is linking-up with GB Building Solutions on a new ВЈ30m hotel job on London's King's Cross Central redevelopment scheme.

Work is due to start early next year to convert the Grade II listed Great Northern Hotel, which first opened in 1854, into a luxury boutique hotel with 94 bedrooms, a bar and staurant.

Work is set to start in early 2010 and is due for completion in late 2011.

Oxford Hotels will act as development manager on the refurbishment and fit-out job. Oxford is part of a consortium assembled and led by investment house Ram.

Since March 2008, works have been underway on the Great Northern Hotel to create a pedestrian arcade at the ground floor level of the hotel.

The pedestrian arcade will contain shops, a new entrance to the Great Northern Hotel itself and a link to the new concourse to King's Cross station that is currently being constructed by Network Rail. This phase of the works is due to be completed by the end of 2009.

GB Building wins ВЈ30m Leeds hotelNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mike Putnam to become next Skanska UK boss

Mike Putnam is soon to take over as the president of Skanska's UK business.

Putnam, who joined as a graduate back when the business was Trafalgar House, will take up the new role from 1 October.

He takes over from Mats Williamson, who has been promoted to the main parent company senior executive team.

Putnam spent most of his career within the business, although he had a small break in the nineties at Balfour's piling firm Stent. During his last three years in charge of civil engineering and much of Skanska UK's building business, Putnam earned a reputation for delivering results and driving forward work safety.

Johan Karlstrom, president of Skanska AB, said: "I'm glad to see the turnaround of Skanska UK has been initiated. This work will continue, both in terms of profitability but also in the implementation of a common way of working in the unit."




Skanska wins £61m cancer unit in LondonBoss-worker relationships need limits

Jarvis reveals "tentative" bid approach

Rail maintenance contractor Jarvis revealed it has received a "tentative" bid approach after shares jumped to their highest level in more than a year yesterday.

The company said: "The inquiry is extremely preliminary in nature and there can be absolutely no certainty that any approach or offer will follow."

City analysts speculated that the interest could have come from a rival rail contracting specialist like Amey, Balfour Beatty, Carillion or Babcock.

The shares, which have mostly limped along at below 20p since a profits warning in November 2007 wiped 75 per cent off from their value, surged by nearly a third from 17ВЅp to 23Вѕp.

Mr Norris, a former Conservative MP and twice candidate for Mayor of London, was named as chairman of the company in 2003 while it was facing a public inquiry into its role in the Potters Bar rail crash in Hertfordshire.


Jarvis reveals tentative bid approach


The business staved off collapse the following year by selling its ВЈ150m stake in the TubeLines underground consortium to Amey, a subsidiary of Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure group.

The company has had occasional interest from potential buyers over the past year.

Network Rail to axe 1,800 maintenance jobsExperts point out where good buys might be

Specialist job toll could rise to 250,000

The total number of specialist construction jobs shed during this recession could hit 250,000 by the end of the year, as delayed payment and onerus contract conditions take their toll.

Graham Manly, president of the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association, said: "170,000 construction specialists lost their jobs in 2008, and there is a strong chance that we will reach a quarter-of-a-million by the end of this year."

He said that intensifying problems with payment and worsening contract terms threatend to send many firms under.

Manly warned specialist subcontractors had seen average payment times drift towards 60-days in recent months.

He added: "Reduced turnover is not necessarily a cause of business failure in itself, but the associated introduction of onerus payment terms most certainly can be," he added.


Specialist job toll could rise to 250,000


"Lord Mandelson's 10-day payment plan for the public sector would have been a laudable concept, if only it had applied to every contractor in the supply chain and was enforceable."

Giving his annual HVCA address, he warned that efforts to improve contract conditions and payment certainty through the Construction Act  would come too late to save many businesses.

"Our major concern is the unacceptable working practices and contractual arrangments now being re-introduced as a result of the recession will become the norm for many years to come."

Four Newcastle school jobs get green light to start workUnemployed short on opportunities, benefits

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mulalley secures ВЈ17m One Housing scheme

Mulalley has won the contract to deliver a capital works improvement programme for One Housing Group on the Isle of Dogs.

The ВЈ17m design and build deal is for external works and landscaping for 2,200 homes on the Isle of Dogs.

The deal is the second and last phase of the major works programme to bring Island Homes stock up to Decent Homes вЂplus’ standard.

It includes repairs to the building structure and fabric, roofs, windows, doors, balconies, landlords services drainage, lifts external redecoration.

The landscaping works will consist of parking, lighting, security, refuse disposal, together with boundary treatments, circulation, open spaces and play facilities.

Shoppers, homes show signs of lifeLovell wins £24m social housing deal

IPAF introduces 'spot the mistake' video for MEWP operators

IPAF has produced a new safety video for MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) operators called “Spot the Mistake” which highlights correct and incorrect procedures and can be freely downloaded from the Publications/Film section of IPAF’s website.

The 20-minute video has six scenarios (extracted from the IPAF operator training course) each of which contains a common operator error. Viewers have a chance to identify the mistake before the correct procedure is shown.

 вЂњThe video encapsulates the most common operator errors and what the right procedures should be,” said Rupert Douglas-Jones, IPAF international training manager. However, the organisation stresses that viewing the video is not a substitute for proper operator training.

Safety revamp after Balfour/Carillion bridge fallVideo ads will run inside U.S. magazine