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Downing Street double act hail infrastructure jobs boost

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

David Cameron and George Osborne claim the infrastructure programme will support more than 150,000 construction jobs

David Cameron and George Osborne made a rare joint appearance recently to publicise an infrastructure programme that they claim will support more than 150,000 construction jobs.

Visiting a transport project in the east Midlands, the prime minister and the chancellor said that more than 200 infrastructure projects are due to be completed in 2014-15, and that more than 200 infrastructure projects are due to be started over the same period.

The schemes are ones that have already been itemised in the government’s national infrastructure plan, but Cameron and Osborne are keen to publicise them in order to demonstrate their commitment to what the Conservatives describe as their “long-term economic plan”.

They have tended to avoid joint appearances in the past, partly for fear of reinforcing the impression that government is run by people from highly privileged backgrounds. But, with economic indicators looking up, and the Conservatives extending their lead over Labour as the party most trusted on the economy, No 10 has decided the presentational advantages of fielding both men outweigh any potential drawbacks.

One source said that Cameron and Osborne were sharing the infrastructure announcement because it was “a very important issue” and having both men taking part would ensure that it “gets good coverage”.

According to Downing Street, £36bn will be spent on the projects starting this year, with £5bn coming directly from the state, £21bn from the private sector and a further £10bn from joint public/private investment. The government claims this spending will support more than 150,000 construction jobs.

The projects starting this financial year include: the £589m Mersey Gateway Bridge, a six-lane tolled suspension bridge linking Runcorn and Widnes; the £18m Sheffield Don Valley flood relief scheme; the £30m Exeter flood defence scheme; and the A1 Leeming to Barton motorway upgrade in Yorkshire, which is expected to cut journey times by 20%.

The 200-plus infrastructure projects due to be completed this year include the Nottingham tram extension, the Heathrow Terminal 2 upgrade and the Gwynt y Môr offshore windfarm, currently the largest in construction in Europe.

In a statement, Cameron said: “Ensuring Britain has first class infrastructure is a crucial part of our long term economic plan: supporting business, creating jobs and providing a better future for hardworking people.

“As a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, this government is backing business with better infrastructure so that more jobs and opportunities are created for hardworking people, meaning more financial security and peace of mind for families.”

Other ministers will also be making visits on Tuesday to publicise infrastructure projects, including Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, who will be inspecting progress on a redevelopment at Birmingham New Street station.

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said that renewing the country’s infrastructure could add up to 5% to GDP.

“We believe that effective infrastructure is the cornerstone of a thriving economy. Our research indicates that every job created maintaining and improving our transport and utility networks supports a total of three new jobs across the economy as a whole,” he said.

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UK home construction industry upbeat amid property boom

May 28th, 2014 Comments off

House building grew for a 15th month in April, the longest period of continuous growth since 2006/07

UK house building is enjoying its longest run of growth since before the financial crisis in a further sign of Britain’s booming property market.

recycle roofing 1Housing construction grew for a 15th month in April, the longest period of continuous growth since 2006/07 according to the Markit/CIPS construction PMI.

Activity in the broader construction sector, which also includes commercial property and civil engineering, grew for the 12th month in a row but at the slowest pace in six months according to the PMI, with the headline index slipping to 60.8 from 62.5 – anything above 50 signals expansion. The figures suggest growth in the sector – which accounts for about 6% of the economy – remains robust.

The figures came in below economists forecasts of 62, but Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Berenberg, said the survey showed the construction sector was still “red hot”.

Confidence among construction businesses remained elevated, according to the survey, while employment in the sector rose for an 11th month. The Office for National Statistics said in a separate report that job vacancies in the construction industry in particular had risen recently, with firms seeking to recruit more staff to meet growing demand. It said the number of vacancies jumped from 14,000 in the three months ending November 2013, to 20,000 in the first quarter of 2014.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, said: “Construction growth has started to moderate from the rapid pace seen over the winter, but strong rises in new work and payroll numbers provide ample optimism that output will expand strongly over the course of 2014.”

House building grew at the fastest rate of all three sub sectors included in the PMI, although it was slightly slower than the rate of growth in March.

It follows a warning from Sir Jon Cunliffe, the Bank of England’s deputy governor for financial stability, that Britain’s housing market could be heading for a fresh crash. He said it would be dangerous to ignore the momentum apparent in the property market across the country.

“This is a movie that has been seen more than once in the UK,” he said.

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Chicks found in bricks at builders’ merchant

May 26th, 2014 Comments off

Staff at a builders merchants in Sussex got a shock when they discovered a nest of Great Tit chicks in a stack of bricks.

The chicks’ mother had built the nest in what she thought was a safe and secure place – not knowing that the bricks would be moved 270 miles from Leeds to the Ringmer branch of Chandlers Building Supplies.

Chandlers’ staff took the nest to the nearby Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare where the wildlife hospital team has been caring chicks-190x165for the chicks.

Cassie Tong, wildlife team member at Raystede, said: “The five little birds were very cold and hungry; it’s amazing that they survived.

“The first 48 hours were critical, but all five have made it and they’re all eating well.

“They will now be looked after by us until they are ready to fledge, and will be released here in Raystede’s 45 acres.

“As Great Tits tend not to migrate, at just a few days old, they’ve already made the longest journey of their lifetime!”

Richard Skinner, Commercial Director at Chandlers Building Supplies, said: “It’s certainly something you don’t expect to find in a delivery.

“It’s lucky that we have Raystede next to our Ringmer branch and we’re pleased that the chicks are doing well.”

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First off-site social housing framework launched

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Public sector procurement consortium LHC is on the hunt for firms involved in the design, manufacture, supply and erection of offsite building systems for social housing.

The group aims to launch later this year a New Homes framework of key off-site homes suppliers for housing association and council clients.

The framework will be available via two work streams, one for volumetric build and the other for panelised systems.

This will provide customers with choices that consider the flexibility of design, transportation, site access, projects in planning and integration with existing build programmes.

Screen-Shot-frameworkThe framework will be available through eight lots across England, Wales and Scotland reflecting expected social housing building volumes.

The tender will be weighted 70% on quality and 30% price and will consider project management, product quality and compliance with relevant funding bodies and technical regulation. The framework is not material specific.

John Skivington, director of LHC, said: “We are very excited about this new framework opportunity which will significantly increase our portfolio for social housing landlords.

“We believe that with our experience in the social housing construction sector, we will be able to attract companies who can offer social landlords high quality best value options for quick and efficient housing constructing.”

Companies can register their interest at the e-tendering Portal.

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Bid race starts for £9m House of Commons refurb

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

The bid race has started for a £9m deal to refurbish part of the House of Commons.

parliament-house of commonsOfficials are looking for a contractor to carry-out upgrade work on the building at 1 Canon Row.

The Grade II listed building “will be brought up to a standard suitable for use as office accommodation and also fulfill Parliaments public duty of care to maintain the architectural and historical significance of the building.”

Works will include the replacement of mechanical and electrical services and the insertion or alteration of internal walls and doorways, external and internal repairs and full redecoration.

A key part of the job is the insertion of a lift and stair core.

Up to six firms will be shortlisted for the work and firms have until June 10 to register their interest online at https://in-tendhost.co.uk/parliamentuk/aspx/Home

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BAM Scottish rail team fuelled by 25,000 bacon rolls

May 19th, 2014 Comments off

Borders Railway has marked the first anniversary of BAM’s £295m contract with a raft of facts and figures – including details of the site team’s breakfast habits.

borders-railThe 866 directly employed staff on the job have tucked-away 25,000 bacon rolls during the last year.

The butties have helped the team work 2.1 million hours, completing 44% of the work on the 30mile long route.

Workers have also:

  • Moved 804,000 tonnes of earth
  • Used 400 tonnes of grouting as part of mining remediation work
  • Installed 25.6 km of drainage works
  • Worked on 104 bridges including 12 footbridges, 39 overbridges and 53 underbridges
  • Installed 22,800 m³ of gabion baskets to support embankments and cuttings

Hugh Wark, project director, Network Rail said: “We have achieved a lot over the past year and, one year on, it’s good to take stock of how far we’ve come in such a short time.

“The entire team has done a fantastic job in getting to this stage, but our focus continues to be on the key milestones that will see this railway built by summer 2015.

“By the end of this summer, the bulk of the structures and earthworks will be complete, and we’ll be looking forward to laying the railway track along the route.”

Nissar Mohammed, project director, BAM said: “We have already overcome some of the biggest challenges on this project and would like to thank everyone who, between them, have spent over two million hours getting to this point.

“In particular, we appreciate the patience and cooperation of local residents and road users.”

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Three new schools to be built in Liverpool

May 16th, 2014 Comments off

Morgan Sindall and Willmott Dixon are set to land contracts worth £28m to build three new schools in Liverpool.

schoolA report to the council’s cabinet today is recommending that new homes for Northway Primary School in Childwall and New Park Primary School in Kensington are built by Morgan Sindall at a cost of £5.5m per school, and Willmott Dixon constructs Archbishop Blanch Church of England High School for £17.5m.

Both primary schools will be rebuilt on the playgrounds of their existing sites while Archbishop Blanch will move to a new purpose-built site in Picton.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “This is a much-needed investment in three schools which desperately need it and is part of my commitment to deliver at least 12 new schools for pupils in the city.

“The new buildings for will be a tremendous boost for thousands of present and future generations of school children and ensure they get the most out of their learning.

“We are working with construction firms to make sure as much of the money is spent locally as possible and benefits the workforce in the city.”

The deals form part of the £169m Liverpool Schools Investment Programme which was devised as a rescue package following the scrapping of Wave Six of Liverpool’s Building Schools for the Future project.

A target has been set for 80% of the sub contract spending on the two primary schools to go to Liverpool firms with 95% of the budget spent with firms across the city region.

For Archbishop Beck, it is hoped 60% will be spent in Liverpool and 70% in the wider area.

Work will start later this year on all three schools and they are expected to open in September 2015.

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Cost rises bite as construction starts to motor

May 14th, 2014 Comments off

Contractors are starting to suffer heavy cost pressure as the industry clocked up its fourth consecutive quarter of growth for the first time in six years.

According to the latest all-industry trade survey construction firms of all sizes across the industry are now reporting strong new-build activity and high expectations for the year ahead.

The first three months of the year also recorded the first significant jump in firms reporting tender price rises.

But these are being forced up by intensifying labour and materials price pressure, rather than strong margin growth.

While private housing remained the key driver in Q1, there was reported growth in commercial work and, for the first time, public school and healthcare work.

The number of building firms reporting tender prices rises jumped to 47% compared to just 2% in the final quarter of 2013.

Three-quarters of building firms surveyed reported costs are on the rise, with most reporting rising materials prices and half labour cost jumps.

Dr Noble Francis, Economics Director at the Construction Products Association, said: “Firms across construction reported rises in output during Q1 and increases in orders and enquiries clearly indicate that activity will continue to rise throughout 2014.

“Tender prices rose in Q1 but any boost from this is likely to occur when the resulting work hits the ground later this year.

“Currently, the key concerns are rising costs and skills availability in specific sectors such as private new housing.

“Overall, the industry reported that there weren’t serious problems recruiting construction trades.

“However, 61% of building contractors reported that it was difficult to obtain bricklayers during Q1 compared with 41% in Q4 and only 10% one year ago.”

Paul Senior, National Chair of the National Federation of Builders, added: “Rising workloads and increases in future orders are good news, but behind those figures are areas of concern.

“Higher labour costs and a lack of available skills are a ticking time bomb that needs to be defused urgently otherwise, for many SMEs, the premiums attached to the cost of simply building will become unsustainable.”

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Fresh blow for 30-day payment charter

May 13th, 2014 Comments off

The Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter has been hit with a new blow just weeks after it was launched with a whimper.

Only nine firms were listed as signing-up to the charter last month during a low-key launch by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

But the Enquirer understands that Kier was wrongly listed as one of the signatories by officials.

That leaves just eight firms backing the scheme with Laing O’Rourke and Skanska the only big main contracting names on the list.

The charter commits firms to paying suppliers within 30 days from January 2018.

It has already come under fire from specialist contractors who fear it will become another toothless initiative.

The document has been drawn-up by the Construction Leadership Council and sets out 11 “Fair Payment Commitments”.

These include reducing payment terms to 30 days from January 2018 with interim stages of 45 days from June 2015 and 60 days with immediate effect.

Other commitments include not withholding cash retentions, not delaying or withholding payment, and making payments electronically.

But only eight of the firms on the 30-strong Construction Leadership Council have been able to commit to the voluntary charter.

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Google to re-tender King’s Cross HQ contract

May 9th, 2014 Comments off

Google is planning to re-tender its King’s Cross HQ contract due to radical design changes.

Google British HQ – Telegraph google HQ londonThe move will be a blow for BAM Construct who were named preferred bidder on the £300m contract last March after beating-off competition from Skanska and Carillion.

The value of the contract could more than double as architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris rework the scheme.

BAM said: “While we are very proud to have won the original Google HQ scheme, we took the view a long time ago that its big re-think will be fundamental, and mean that the project won’t happen in this form.

“Like everyone else, BAM will wait to see what Google decides about the future.”

A consultant said: “There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen next. There is even talk that Google may look for a new site elsewhere for its landmark building.”

Current plans for the long narrow site from architect AHMM include a swimming pool and a running track on the roof and space for as many as 5,000 workers.

Work was due to start on site this year but design changes could add up to two years to the construction schedule.

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