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Archive for September, 2015

Subbies race for £500m new-style roads deals

September 30th, 2015 Comments off

Highways England has formally invited bids for specialist works contracts under its new road maintenance regime for the East Midlands.

The roads body is abandoning asset support style contracts to replace the Area 7 managing agent deal with a more traditional contract model bringing control of maintenance in-house once again.

It made the decision to use Area 7 as a test-bed for a different approach after announcing at the start of the year that it would rerun five ASC regions bid races.

Previous bids were rejected because of a mismatch between contractor’s low bid prices and quality of service expected.

The new one-off framework is now being estimated at £500m over four years, rather than a £300m costing used in previous estimates.

It will see Highway England shifting from relying on a main contractor to manage the repair and maintenance regime to directly managing the process in-house.

Highways England bosses believe the move will given them greater insight into day-to-day delivery issues and better cost models for future tender assessments.

The latest works framework is one of four that are going out to tender for Area 7.

A 15-year maintenance and response contract was advertised in August, worth a potential £15m-£35m a year.

Contracts for design work and for specialist services are also being prepared.

The packages will cover: Civil engineering works including earthworks; fencing, landscaping; road restraints; drainage and ducts; pavements, kerbs, footways, paved areas; traffic signs and markings; road lighting and electrical work for lighting; structures — piling and retention walls and structural concrete; waterproofing; painting; and any other similar duties.

The contracts will all begin on 1 July 2016, once the current Managing Agent Contract with Aone+ has expired.

The new contract arrangements in the East Midlands bring with them new employment opportunities, with Highways England looking to boost its in-house capability through the recruitment of new staff – with a significant number expected to transfer from the current Area 7 provider Aone+.

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Plan to dig up Cambridge guided busway to end dispute

September 28th, 2015 Comments off

BuswayBAM Nuttall and Cambridgeshire County Council have agreed to fund an investigation into what has gone wrong with the ill-fated guided busway project.

The council planned to launch a £31m legal claim against the contractor over unresolved defects.

But it has agreed to wait for the outcome of a six-month probe, which will involving digging up sections of the busway at night to minimise disruption.

Last year a report by technical advisers for the council advised that BAM Nuttall should be held to account for fixing problems including shallow foundations and inadequate drainage. It has been estimated this could take three years to complete.

BAM has contested the findings, but would not comment on the proposed legal threat, which looked set to reopen old wounds for the contractor on the troubled project.

BAM Nuttall has already paid the county council £33m in an out-of-court settlement last year to cover defects and extra work.

The contractor was two years late in handing over the project and claimed the council owed them around £70m more than the £84m contract price, triggering a protracted legal dispute.

At the time, BAM Nuttall said the busway had cost it £152m to build and claimed it should receive an extra £43m on top of the £118m the authority had already paid them.

But in August 2013 after an on-going legal battle over the late delivery of the project, BAM agreed to pay back £33m bringing the price paid by the council back to the original contract value.

A joint statement said that Cambridgeshire County Council and BAM Nuttall now have agreed to carry out a series of surveys and investigations into the construction of the Cambridgeshire guided busway.

“The county council has raised a number of concerns with BAM Nuttall about the construction of the guided busway which centre around movement of the foundations and the joints between the guideway beams.

“In 2014, the county council gave notice to BAM Nuttall of its intention to commence legal action in regard to these concerns. The two parties have now agreed to jointly fund a series of investigations and surveys into the behaviour of the guideway.

“The county council have agreed to put their legal action on hold pending the outcome of the surveys. The investigations include testing of the guideway components both on-site and in laboratories, a series of surveys to monitor movements of the beams and foundations, and a complete walkover survey of the busway.

“The survey work has now commenced and will take six months to complete.”

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Surf Snowdonia Make Surfing Pool History

September 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Surf board pic

Surf Snowdonia have created a brand new surfing phenomenon that had all wave-crashers flocking to them on September 1st, when the new attraction made its first debut. Boasting of holding the new record of the world’s longest man-made surfable waves, participators of all abilities are able to take part; with choices of riding waves as high as 2m and as low as 70cm.

Setting History Once Again

This is not the first time the company will see their name printed in history. They were also the first to create a revolutionary inland surfing lagoon. Based in North Wales, the company built the attraction in 2007 on what was once an industrial estate, and have been a hit ever since.

 

empty poolHow Does It Work?

The new wave-creating fun-filled attraction is made possible by a wavefoil machine and a gearless ropeway drive system. The 300m long lagoon will have the wave motion created by the wavefoil machine travelling back and forth along the bottom of the pool, operated by the ropeway drive. The machine will react with the water and, thanks to the different contours, create variable wave heights that will span over 150m.

The lagoon can be enjoyed by up to 52 surfers at any given time, giving plenty of opportunity to catch that perfect wave. With safety always in mind, participators don’t have to worry about coming into contact with the machinery, thanks to the implementation of a steel netted screen to keep human and machine separate.

 

Wavegarden picHow Did They Do It?

The concept behind Surf Snowdonia was dreamed up a decade ago, and has finally come to fruition. Testing may have taken place in Spain, by some of the greatest surfers, but the finished enthralling wave-infested pool was built right here in the UK. Waves created by the innovative machinery can last as long as 20 seconds, giving even the most astute surfers a chance to enjoy the ride.

The whole process would not be possible without Pumping Solutions, who Surf Snowdonia recruited to pump water into the lagoon with their quality equipment. Working with this company allows Surf Snowdonia to recycle the water used in the pool, making the Wavegarden more environmentally friendly.

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Plans in for former BBC Manchester site

September 23rd, 2015 Comments off

The first planning applications have gone in for the £750m redevelopment of the former BBC site in Manchester city centre.

Bruntwood and its residential development partner Select Property Group hope to gain permission for the first phase by the end of the year and start construction in late 2017 on the 2.5m sq ft mixed use site.

Chris Oglesby of Bruntwood, MSP and Corridor Manchester said: “We’ve produced a masterplan that embraces and exceeds the ambitions of the City’s Strategic Regeneration Framework to create a vibrant new neighbourhood including fantastic new office, residential, retail and leisure uses, alongside exceptional new public spaces and routes through the site.

“Its unique location, connecting the city centre with the Corridor Manchester, enables the site to support the cross-fertilisation and commercialisation of ideas and a public green will provide Manchester with a new open space for people to gather and dwell.”

Mark Stott, CEO of Select Property Group added: “It will be a place that draws you in, an extraordinary district for pioneering people and businesses who want to live and work side by side, innovating for the future.

“It’s an exciting time for the future of Manchester and we’re looking forward to sharing more information about the project throughout its development.”

The first planning application features some of the public realm plans, including new tree lined waterside walkways as well as two serviced apartment buildings designed to attract mature, postgraduate and international students.

This will be closely followed by 350,000 sq ft of commercial space.

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Community at the heart of new Manor Farm housing development

September 21st, 2015 Comments off

Construction at a new housing development at Manor Farm, Stretham is now under way following today’s official ground breaking ceremony. The project is the first of its kind to be developed in East Cambridgeshire involving a
Manor Farm siteCommunity Land Trust. The scheme, located just outside Ely, has been created through a partnership including Laragh Homes, Peterhouse College, Cambridge and the Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust (CLT).

The new development includes 50 homes, a third of which will be affordable. A new doctor’s surgery and several small business units will also be constructed, to boost the community’s amenities and economy. After extensive community consultation, the buildings have been designed around a large village green crossed by footpaths, cycle routes and bridleways. Laragh Homes has worked closely with the Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust to ensure that the Manor Farm development fits seamlessly with local housing, and enhances the existing community.

As well as the importance placed on green outdoor space, all buildings in the scheme also have solid green credentials. Designed and constructed to ensure maximum energy efficiency, the heating will come from air source heat pumps whilst the homes will have excellent insulation.

The start of works on site was marked with the planting of a cherry tree by Charles Roberts, Chairman of the Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust alongside Simon Somerville-Large, MD of Laragh Homes. “This is a truly great day,” said Mr Roberts “and in one year’s time when we welcome the first residents into their new homes, it will be an even greater day”.

Simon Somerville-Large, MD of Laragh Homes said: “It’s taken us about three years to get this far but it’s worth it because we’re investing in knowledge for the future and working with local communities. We are really keen to pass on our experience from here, working with other community trusts who don’t need to be dependent on any third party funding. Manor Farm will become a natural extension of the village.“

The Stretham & Wilburton Community Land Trust is the first of its kind in Cambridgeshire and one of only 170 CLTs across the country. In recent years, CLTs have become increasingly important in responding to the national housing crisis as CLT developments aim to deliver genuinely affordable housing as well as other assets important to the community.

The Manor Farm site was originally owned by Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Mr Somerville-Large said: “Peterhouse recognised the value of this scheme to the local community and were of enormous help in keeping costs down and facilitating community involvement. Without their cooperation we couldn’t have done it.”

Plans for Manor Farm will be available at the start of November with further information available from Cheffins of Ely who will be handling residential sales www.cheffins.co.uk.

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Canary Wharf Contractors’ lorries to avoid left turns

September 18th, 2015 Comments off

Canary Wharf Contractors is introducing the latest technology to plot safe routes for lorries making site deliveries to its new Southbank Place development.

no-left-turnRoutes will try and avoid left turns in a bid to make London’s roads safer for cyclists.

The move follows a raft of measures unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson earlier this month to protect cyclists from HGVs.

Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd (CWCL) is implementing technology from PIE Mapping to help construction HGV drivers take alternative routes, reduce pollution and congestion and protect cyclists.

The company will create workable routes which minimise road sharing between HGVs and cyclists so that they avoid each other during peak periods.

Testing and careful modelling of all left turns coming into London is currently underway and the platform will impose time based restrictions on busy routes for HGVs.

These will be in place initially for the morning rush hour peak Monday to Friday. The software will guide and navigate HGV drivers differently based on the time of day.

Cormac MacCrann, Managing Director, Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd said: “We are delighted to be the first London construction company to implement this technology on our Southbank Place project.

“It’s critical that the construction industry rises to the dual challenges of reducing pollution and congestion, as well as protecting a wide range of road users, particularly cyclists.

“We are sure that our collaboration with PIE Mapping will help to improve safety for London cyclists and we would be delighted if other major contractors adopted this HGV routing system.”

The platform is being developed at the moment and Canary Wharf Contractors will roll it out as the Southbank Place development gets underway.

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Plan to ban industry-wide cement price rise alerts

September 16th, 2015 Comments off

The Government’s competition watchdog has set out plans to ban cement companies from issuing generic price rise letters to the industry.

cementThe new measure, which is now out to industry consultation, is one of a series of actions aimed at raising competition in the aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete markets following an in depth probe by the Competition Commission last year.

Instead, any future price announcement letters will have to be specific and relevant to contractors receiving them, including setting out the last unit price paid, the new unit price, and specific details of any other fees and charges that apply to each firm.

At the end of July. Lafarge Tarmac sold one of its cement plants and Hanson sold one of its ground granulated blast furnace slag plants under instruction from the competition watchdog.

The CMA is also planning consultation on proposals restricting the disclosure and publication of cement market data.

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Three in five construction workers don’t have an employment contract

September 14th, 2015 Comments off

More than 60% of construction workers polled by constructaquote.com admitted that they didn’t have an employment contract and a further 20% said that they weren’t sure whether they did have a contract or not.

The study, which polled more than 1000* UK adults who work in the construction industry, also questioned the respondents about their annual leave entitlement and sick leave.

Four out of five (82%) revealed that they did not receive any sick pay from their employer and 86% don’t get any paid annual leave. When asked if they get paid if the weather stopped them from working, only 12% said that they did, with a further 4% stating that it would depend on the circumstances.

When asked if they considered themselves to be on a zero-hour contract, only 16% admitted that they did, with more than three quarters (76%) stating that they don’t have any kind of contract and that they just turn up for work. Furthermore, when asked if they would prefer to be on a zero-hours contract or have an employment contract, the majority (68%) would opt for an employment contract.

The new study comes after the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of UK workers on zero-hours contracts has risen by 19%.

Lyndon Wood, CEO of constructaquote.com, said: “Our survey reveals that zero-hour contracts are customary in the construction industry. The majority of those we polled told us that they did not receive any sick pay or paid annual leave – which I think is a worrying statistic as many of our tradespeople are out in all weathers keeping the UK economy ticking over.

“I also think it is very telling that just under three quarters said that they would prefer to have a written employment contract and that 76% just turn up for work, with no contract in place. Working in the trades without any form of written contract has been the way the industry has worked for years, but as this study has shown – maybe it is time for change.”

*The study polled a total of 1,043 UK adults aged 18. Each participant works in the construction industry. Of those polled 34% were builders, 13% were plumbers and 9% were carpenters.

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Construction union boss quits

September 10th, 2015 Comments off

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy has resigned after being on sick leave for six months.

steve murphyHe leaves as the construction union has laid off up to 16 staff amid deepening financial turmoil and falling membership.

Murphy’s decision to quit will now trigger a new leadership race, which is likely start before the end of the year.

Brian Rye, UCATT’s national secretary, who has been covering Murphy’s duties over the last six months, said: “We wish Steve and his family all the best for the future.”

 

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Wates Living Space splits into new-build and repairs divisions

September 9th, 2015 Comments off

Affordable housing and maintenance contractor Wates Living Space has formed a new national business structure to double turnover in the next four years.

The business has now been split into two separate divisions under the Living Space brand; a Maintenance division and a Homes division.

Managing Director of Wates Living Space, Andy Hobart, who joined the firm from Balfour Beatty Workplace at the end of 2012, aims to grow both divisions to create a sustainable £500m maintenance division and a £250m homes division.

He said: “Today’s announcement brings us even closer becoming the UK’s leading affordable housing and maintenance contractor.

“The clear separation of our maintenance and homes divisions under the Wates Living Space brand gives us a strong foundation on which to seize emerging business opportunities and to make our ambitious growth goals a reality.”

Each division is supported by a dedicated management team focused on the growth opportunities within each sector.

The Homes division will be led by Managing Director, Jo Jamieson who will be accountable for the division’s new build and partnership housing activities across all regions and will report to Hobart.

She takes up this new role following her previous appointment as regional managing director of Wates Living Space’s new build activities in the East.

Hobart will continue to oversee the maintenance division, supported by regional managing directors, David Morgan in the South and Steve Jackson in the Midlands and North.

The two divisions will offer housing association and local authority clients a full range of maintenance, contracting and development services.

Wates Living Space’ reported a turnover of £391m in 2014 and has been further supported by a number of strategic acquisitions in recent years.

This includes the integration of Linbrook Services into South Maintenance in 2011 and the more recent acquisition of G Purchase in 2014, expanding Wates Living Space’s national offer to customers and growing its responsive maintenance capability in the Midlands and North.

This significant growth has also enabled the business to expand its client offer.

The creation of development models resulted in the delivery of mixed-tenure schemes at Erith Park in Bexley and Drakes Place in Aylesbury.

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