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Archive for February, 2017

Jail sentences for tradesmen after £300,000 tax fraud

February 28th, 2017 Comments off

Nine construction tradesmen from Widnes and Liverpool have been sentenced for trying to steal £300,000 in an organised tax fraud.

james roberts
James Roberts was central to the scam

The men, who worked as subcontractors including painters, decorators, builders, and roofers, submitted false claims for tax repayments.

James Roberts, of Widnes, was at the centre of the conspiracy, which was uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators.

He was found to have made multiple fraudulent amendments to his own tax returns and allowed his bank account to be used by other members of the gang.

Roberts’ partner, Natasha Sinnott, 22, of Bootle, helped the fraudsters by allowing the stolen taxes to be laundered through her bank account.

The fraud was uncovered by the Income Tax Self-Assessment Repayments Taskforce which targets individuals who submit false Income Tax Self Assessment claims.

The false claims were made under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

HMRC withheld the majority of the tax repayments when suspicious activity was detected and will now look to recover any remaining stolen tax using civil and criminal proceedings.

Those sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court this week were:

– James Lee Roberts, 27, of Widnes, jailed for three years.

– Steven Peter Jones, 28, of Widnes – eight months jail suspended for two years.

– Stephen Edwards, 32, of Widnes – 10 months jail suspended for two years.

– Patrick Molyneux, 31, of Maghull – 11 months jail suspended for two years.

– Kieran Rigby, 28, of Widnes – eight months jail suspended for two years.

– Stephen Yemm, 34, of Widnes – nine months jail suspended for two years.

– Gregg Carter, 26, of Widnes – four months jail suspended for two years.

– Ashley Hughes, 26, of Widnes – 11 months jail suspended for two years.

– Scott Keegan, 27, of Widnes – five months jail suspended for two years.

– Natasha Sinnott, 22 of Bootle, sentenced to four months jail suspended for 12 months for money laundering on behalf of others in the fraud.

Two other men are due to be sentenced next week – James Rutherford, 31, of Kirkby, and Vincent Mccluskie, 45, of Seaforth.

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Construction Industry has much to learn on building resilience from flooding

February 27th, 2017 Comments off

The chairman of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Select Committee, Neil Parish MP, has been on a fact-finding mission to a damage restoration depot in his own constituency.

Mr Parish was shown Richfords Fire & Flood’s facility at Cullompton on 17th February 2017 where he saw the equipment used to dry out buildings after an escape of water or flooding. The EFRA chair was also shown a training mock-up of a stud-wall which had been rigged up for injection drying and remote monitoring.

After his tour, the Tiverton & Honiton MP said:

“I applaud the work of Richfords in allowing people back into their homes much more quickly and then, in the future, increase the resilience of that property. That’s great news because people don’t want to be out of their homes for a very long time. I chair the EFRA select committee and we recently published a report on floods and flooding. The report stressed how important it is to improve properties if they have flooded and make them more resilient afterwards.

I’m very interested in Richfords’ work because it will put in very good stead some future programmes. There is a lot that the Government and local authorities can learn through the planning process and the building control process as well. It is up to Government and local authorities to work with companies like Richfords so we can make life easier for people, get a better construction and better building in the first place so that hopefully, if it floods or has a fire, then it is more resilient.”

Among the other topics discussed was the new British Standard for Damage Management (BS12999) and the importance of getting this embedded in industry across the country.

Richfords’ Business Development Director, Michael Cooper, said:

“It is important that we make our knowledge available to politicians who are shaping future policies because the buildings being constructed now will have an impact on how we deal with the potential increase in flooding events in the future. We want to make getting people’s lives back as fast and effective as possible. However, we need to know that the housing being built can be restored. Our fear is that some of the new stock is NOT resilient. This fear is based on recent experience of dealing with a water damage incidents in new timber-frame homes.”

Richfords Fire & Flood’s campaign to educate includes more meetings with politicians in the coming months and a series of CPD sessions for constructors and architects across the south west.

Images and Video from the visit.

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Plans to go in for Liverpool’s tallest tower

February 22nd, 2017 Comments off

A planning application is set to be submitted for a new 48 storey tower on Old Hall Street in Liverpool which could become the city’s tallest building.

ovatus

Plans for the  Ovatus 2 tower have been put forward by a joint venture between Prospect Capital and Wilcocks & Wilcocks.

It will sit next to the 27-storey Ovatus 1 tower which was submitted for planning last December with a target construction start date of April 2017 for the £37m contract.

The adjacent plot of Ovatus 2 currently houses a Shop Direct data centre. Developers will have to wait until 2018 for the building to become vacant before any building work starts.

Ovatus 2 has been designed by Hodder+Partners and comprises a total of 530 apartments reaching eight storeys higher than West Tower – the city’s current tallest building.

Partners Martin Wilcocks, of Wilcocks & Wilcocks, and Craig Blackwell, of Prospect Capital, have worked together for a number of years on development projects throughout Liverpool’s business district.

The pair acquired 122 Old Hall Street and adjacent land last April for £3.25m.

The Ovatus 1 and 2 project is already fully funded and the first tower has secured enough pre-sales to ensure that it will be fully occupied on completion.

Wilcocks said: “This is a highly visible, landmark location that stands at the gateway to Liverpool’s World Heritage site.

“We’re working with a strong team that we know will deliver the build in a way that does justice to its potential.

“Hoder+Partners, Indigo Planning, WSP and PlanIt are already doing fantastic jobs at the planning stage and we look forward to working closely with them all to bring the planned addition to the waterfront skyline into reality.”

Blackwell said: “Following on from our Ovatus 1 application at the same site in Liverpool we feel that Ovatus 2 not only compliments the original tower but also makes a big statement as to where the market in Liverpool is now moving.

“We will be working with exactly the same team on both towers and are excited to be part of what will be the tallest building in Liverpool.”

ovatus2

 

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Subcontractor boss launches probe into late payment

February 20th, 2017 Comments off

The director of a joinery specialist is launching a probe into payment abuse in the industry.

Chris Bennett said he has suffered at the hands of late payment by main contractors.

And now he is taking an MSc in Construction Management at Liverpool John Moore’s University with payment abuse as one of his specialist subjects.

More than 100 firms have already taken part in the survey which is anonymous but will be used to inform future debate on how subcontractors are treated.

The initiative is being promoted by pressure group Streetwise Subbi.

Director Barry Ashmore said: Most, if not all, specialist contractors will experience payment problems of one form or another at some time in their lives.

“As a director of a joinery business, Chris Bennett, experienced first-hand the impact that late and non-payment had on his business.

“The results are already painting quite a stark picture.”

To take the survey click here

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The Survey Association launches smart new website

February 17th, 2017 Comments off

The Survey Association launches smart new website

New features give clients a fast route to TSA’s expertise  

The Survey Association (TSA), the UK’s trade body for commercial survey companies, has redeveloped its website, following a year of exceptional growth in visitor numbers and applications for membership.

During 2016, TSA’s website logged more than 142,000 visits from 100 different countries, an increase of 153% on 2014. TSA also received 19 applications for membership, the highest ever in one year. http://www.tsa-uk.org.uk/

TSA President Adam Bradley said, ‘’Improvements to the website’s functionality and refreshed design has been essential to align with the growth of the profession in a number of sectors. With a clearer, easy to navigate listing, clients can now quickly contact a trusted industry professional from our growing list of Member companies.’’

‘’The Job Opportunities section, the most visited page on the site, has been improved too, with a cleaner layout, showing vacancies within a range of survey specialisms,’’ he added.

TSA’s free Client Guides and Guidance Notes on specific survey topics are authored by industry specialist Members. Construction professionals and international organisations regularly consult these documents.

TSA Manager, Rachel Tyrrell explains, ‘’During 2016 there were almost 8,000 (7,961) downloads by engineers, local government, educational establishments and surveyors from all over the world.  The new site makes it simpler for these users to review and download from our growing library.’’

To complement the Client Guides and Guidance Notes, TSA plans to establish a new library of Work Samples, illustrating the standard and quality of work expected from a trusted survey company.

TSA’s website also carries information about professional training courses as they become available. For specific information on the TSA Surveying Course and shorter technical courses offered at The Survey School visit www.surveyschool.org.uk

For further information on The Survey Association visit http://www.tsa-uk.org.uk/    Tel: 01636 642840  Email: office@tsa-uk.org.uk  

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Participants from the 2016 GBS programme

February 16th, 2017 Comments off

Find out more about ‘green’ construction summer university programme at Ecobuild

Visitors to Ecobuild can find out more about a pioneering Austrian summer university programme, which provides world-leading insight into sustainable architecture and the built environment.

Green.Building.Solutions. (GBS) takes place in Vienna, the capital of energy efficient construction in the summer.

Representatives from the OeAD-Housing Office will be on hand at Ecobuild from the 7 to 9 March to discuss the course, from their base located within the Advantage Austria pavilion, on stand number A189.

The programme provides a unique opportunity for professionals and students in the fields of architecture and construction to strengthen their knowledge and gain a career advantage in the field of sustainability – an area of increasing global significance.

Organised by the OeAD-Housing Office, which offers passive house accommodation for students across Austria, together with the BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, the course advocates the use of natural resources by connecting natural, engineering and economic sciences.

The three-week programme’s lectures and all associated social activities are carried out in English and the course is of appeal to – but not limited to – those working in and studying architecture, construction management, project management, building and energy engineering and surveying.

It concludes with a collaborative project, where participants work together to bring their learning and experiences from the course to design a ‘green’ building. Student participants are entitled to seven ECTS points after successful completion.

The GBS summer university takes place from July 22 to August 13, 2017.

The cost of the course is €2,490 for professionals and €2,000 for students. This price includes all social activities as well as accommodation in OeAD’s passive house student properties in Vienna. The cost also includes accommodation for participants for almost a week after the programme, enabling them to explore the city at leisure.

Günther Jedliczka, CEO of the OeAD-Housing Office, said: “Austria is world-renowned as a pioneer in sustainable construction and GBS offers professionals and students from the UK and Ireland the opportunity to broaden their perspective and build a network of useful contacts across Europe and beyond.

“We offer a truly international atmosphere, with 38 participants from 20 nations successfully completing the programme last year covering topics including Sustainability in Building and Urban Planning, Principles of Passive House Planning and Renewable Energies and Business Concepts.

“Everyone wanting to find out more is warmly welcomed to come to our stand at Ecobuild, where we will be able to provide more details.”

The OeAD-Housing Office – which won the Austrian Climate Protection Award in 2013 and the Environmental Award of the City of Vienna in March 2015 – operates the Green Building Solutions course under a not-for-profit arrangement.

As well as GBS, OeAD also runs the Alternative Economic and Monetary Systems programme (AEMS), which analyses how economic, political, monetary and environmental factors need to change to be more sustainable – from the 26 July   July until 11 August, 2017.

More details about GBS and AEMS can be found at www.summer-university.net

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New Wear Crossing giant pylon raised in single lift

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

Engineers successfully lifted into place the 1,550 tonnes A-frame centrepiece of Sunderland’s new bridge over the weekend.

The 100m white pylon was raised from a barge to its 90-degree resting place on Saturday, the culmination of nearly two years planning by joint venture builders Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction.

It is being hailed as a landmark in the use of off-site construction for bridge building.

The vast lift took less than 16 hours split over two days – equivalent to raising 125 double decker buses. Nothing of this scale has been raised in this way since the London Eye was erected in 1999.

Stephen McCaffrey, project director for FVB joint venture, said: “It’s a great day for everyone working on the project – we have been working towards this day since we broke ground 19 months ago.

“We could have built the pylon on site, from the ground up, but we chose to fabricate it in one go, off-site, in a factory environment because we had better control over conditions, got a better quality of finish, and could avoid having people working at height.

“The transportation of the pylon from the fabrication yard in Belgium and the raising on site have been challenging, but we planned well and the result was a successful operation.”

Patrick Van Severen, project director for Victor Buyck Steel Construction, said: “Lifting the pylon was definitely the most challenging part of this whole project.”

“Now our focus turns to the next phases of work. We will be launching the bridge deck out across the river in Spring and will start connecting the cable stays in the summer. After that, people will really see the bridge come to life.”

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “We are on budget and on time to complete this project by the spring of 2018, and then we can really start to make sure this new bridge delivers for Sunderland.”

Standing at twice the height of Nelson’s Column and bigger than Big Ben’s clock tower, the centrepiece will be visible from some considerable distance on both sides of the river, as well as from the A19.

The new bridge will link Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south, improving transport links to the city centre and Port of Sunderland from the A19 and A1.

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Worker loses leg in rebar horror

February 14th, 2017 Comments off

A steel reinforcing specialist has been fined £277,000 after a worker had a leg amputated after being crushed at its Canvey Island plant.

Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 June 2015 Felix Trefas, 27, a welder for F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd, was making large steel reinforcing cages which were moved by overhead travelling cranes.

When one of these cranes broke down, a colleague asked Trefas to climb more than six metres up the crane supports to re-set the controls.

While Trefas was resetting the faulty crane, his left leg was crushed when he came into contact with another overhead crane. His leg was later amputated below the knee.

The District Judge heard the overhead cranes were poorly maintained so that workers regularly had to work at height to re-set them and during the night shift this often involved workers climbing the crane support column

Summing up he said this “horrific accident should never have happened” and that the company “should have had systems in place” to identify that unsafe access to the cranes was regularly occurring.

The court also heard the toilet and washing facilities for workers were in an extremely poor and dirty condition despite having been the subject of previous enforcement action by HSE.

F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd of Canvey Island pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £277,000  and ordered to pay £11,904 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews said: “It is essential that lifting equipment is properly maintained and that safe systems of work are in place for work at height. Employers have a duty to ensure that welfare facilities are kept clean.

“Felix is incredibly lucky that he was not killed in this incident but he has suffered permanent life-changing injuries.

“This preventable workplace accident has changed the life of a previously fit and hard-working young man irrevocably.” 

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Queensferry Crossing deck completed

February 10th, 2017 Comments off

The final section of the deck of the new Queensferry Crossing was lifted into place on Friday marking a critical milestone for the project.

Queensferry Bridge
All hands on deck as final bridge section is fixed into place today

Engineers have now fixed the 750 tonne bridge segment to the existing 1.7 mile deck span between Edinburgh and Fife.

Galliford Try is part of the four-company consortium that includes Hochtief, Dragados, and American Bridge of Pittsburgh in the US  building the main motorway bridge over the Firth of Forth under a £790m contract.

The structure now becomes the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world and also by far the longest to feature cables which cross mid-span.

This innovative design provides extra strength and stiffness, allowing the towers and the deck to be more slender and elegant.

Queensferry Bridge

Michael Martin, project director for Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors said: “This final deck lift is the culmination of a world class team effort stretching all the way back to the very first day of construction in 2011.

“The final “closure” is always one of the most significant milestones in any bridge construction programme. On a bridge of this magnificent scale, well, it’s more than a bit special. It is a real pleasure to pay tribute to the skill and dedication of everybody involved and to congratulate them on an outstanding achievement.

“We are now focused on completing the huge range of finishing works and bringing the Project to a successful conclusion.”

 The Queensferry Crossing is due to open in May.

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£41m Lancaster Uni health campus approved

February 9th, 2017 Comments off

Lancaster University has been granted planning permission for an 85,000 sq ft health innovation building.

lancaster-university-health-innovation-campus-plans-approved

Planning permission was already in place for a development of land immediately adjacent to the university’s Bailrigg Campus, but approval has now been given for the £41m first phase of the facility.

The Health Innovation Campus aims to bring together innovators, academics, businesses and health care providers to drive advances in health treatment.

lancaster-university-health-innovation-campus-plans-approved

Designed by John McAslan & Partners, the building will stretch over 120m rising from two to 5 storeys. The plan is to clad the scheme in a mix of natural stone aggregates to form robust lightweight concrete panels and bronze toned anodised aluminium mullions and panels.

Construction work is due to begin this year with completion in September 2019.

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