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Construction Parliamentary Update - 01 May 2009

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster this week brought to you by the Madano Partnership.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) published details of their forthcoming work at the Party Conferences, the report gave brief views of pertinent policy areas including housing and transport. (24 April)

The Scottish Government announced the launch of a new £11.2 million ePlanning system. The online initiative aims to enable people to apply for developments, appeal against decisions and track the progress of proposals (Press Release). (29 April)

The Communities and Local Government Committee announced it would undertake a brief inquiry into the Government’s proposed changes to the Planning Policy Statement 6 on town centres. The Committee will focus on the proposed change from the “need” test, by which local planning authorities are currently required to assess proposals for out-of-town retail development, to a new “impact assessment framework” (Press Release). Two oral evidence sessions will be held on 11 and 18 May 2009 and witnesses are to be announced soon. (24 April)

The third reading of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill was held in the House of Lords (Hansard). (29 April)

The Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) ordered the immediate removal of 100,000 construction jobs from its “shortage list” of skilled professions. In all, the list has been cut by nearly 300,000 because of sharply rising redundancies and unemployment (Press Release). (29 April)

According to the latest Tender Price Index compiled by the building cost information service of RICS, tenders prices are falling as contractors battle it out for less work. (28 April)

Nominations were invited for the Constructing Excellence in Wales Awards 2009. There will be ten regional awards ceremonies to celebrate the best of construction from their local industries (Press Release). (28 April)

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) reported that talks on the EU Working Time Directive ended without agreement, signalling the end of the European Parliament’s proposal to phase out the opt-out in three years (Press Release). (28 April)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a warning to site managers in west London after nearly half of the jobs visited during an inspection were handed enforcement notices (Press Release). (27 April)

The Government published a prospectus encouraging businesses and training providers to bid for funding from a pot of £7 million to take on apprentices in the downturn (Press Release). (27 April)

The Government published its new Equalities Bill which requires all firms employing more than 250 staff to take part in gender pay audits. Leaders of the British Chambers of Commerce said these new laws placed an unreasonable bureaucratic burden upon companies (Press Release, Hansard). (27 April)

The Private Members Commons Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) Bill received its second reading in the Commons (Hansard). (24 April)

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published the gross domestic product preliminary estimate for the 1st quarter of 2009. The data found that construction contracts have contracted by 2.4 per cent for the first three months of the year, following a decrease of 4.9 per cent in the previous quarter (Press Release). (24 April)

The Insolvency Service launched a consultation that plans to give companies with a turnover of more than £6.5m the same protection as smaller firms when they face the threat of going into administration (Press Release). (24 April)

The Nationwide Building Society released figures showing house prices have dropped by 0.4% this month (Press Release). (30 April)

Plans to end the Right to Buy for new build social housing in Scotland were published. The reforms, part of the consultation on the Draft Housing (Scotland) Bill, are aimed at safeguarding social rented housing. (27 April)

The Welsh Assembly Government published a draft regulatory framework for Housing Associations. A consultation on the proposals was published that closes on 24 July 2009 (Press Release). (27 April)

The largest of the UK’s high-volume housebuilders, Persimmon, announced in their Interim Management Statement that weekly sales volumes have edged above their previous year’s figures this month. (24 April)

The National Association of Estate Agents published figures showing the number of homes sold by estate agents reached its highest level for more than a year during March (24 April)

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted how the economic downturn was putting pressure upon the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) with the Government requesting that the department accelerate its capital spending programme by bringing forward £924 million of capital expenditure from 2010-11 to 2009-10. The report highlighted that this was despite a slowdown in the availability of credit for PFI schemes in the department’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme (Press Release). (30 April)

Network Rail announced the UK’s first high speed domestic train service as the backbone of a new proposed rail strategy for Kent (Press Release). (28 April)

Transport Minister Geoff Hoon published a summary of responses to the Government’s consultation on ‘Delivering a Sustainable Transport System: Consultation on Planning for 2014 and beyond’ (Press Release). (28 April)

Network Rail awarded three contracts worth a combined £100 million as major construction work begins on the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link (Press Release). (28 April)

The House of Commons Transport Committee published the further Government response to its report ‘Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010’. (27 April)

Transport for London (TfL) passed the role of Director of Strategy and Service Development to Richard Parry, following Tim O’Toole’s departure (Press Release). (27 April)

Network Rail announced their intention to appoint Bechtel as its delivery partner for the Crossrail and Reading projects (Press Release) (24 April)

Northern Way think tank published research claiming that improved rail services from Manchester would boost the North’s economy by an estimated £16 billion (Press Release). (24 April)

A new construction college opened in east London. The college is intended to develop construction skills for future infrastructure projects including the Olympics (Press Release). (29 April)

Contract Journal reported that construction workers from the Unite and GMB unions were planning to march in Westminster next week to protest working conditions. (27 April)

The Local Government Association (LGA) held their conference on the draft flood bill. (29 April)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a consultation to update and reissue the Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice. The consultation concerns the revised Code of Practice and the extent to which it offers clear, fit for purpose and practical guidance to holders of waste and closes on 24 July (Press Release). (30 April)

The Welsh Assembly launched a consultation on its waste strategy from now until 2050 ‘Towards Zero Waste’, to close on 22 July (Press Release) (29 April)

Defra announced a consultation ‘Implementing the abstraction elements of the Water Act 2003’, which will close on 22 July. The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on draft proposals from Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government on the removal and creation of various exemptions from license control (Press Release). (29 April).

The Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee published a report on the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, urging tighter targets and a broader scope. The report sets out measures aimed at improving waste reduction and recycling. (24 April)

Minister for Justice Jack Straw made a statement in the House of Commons announcing the government’s intentions to deliver 7,500 prison places not through Titans but though five smaller prisons. Contractors were hopeful that the delayed £160 million privately financed Belmarsh and Maghull prison deal and the £150 million Featherstone prison scheme would be among the five smaller prisons including prisons on sites in Kent and Essex now intended to be built insead of Titans. There are plans to build these smaller via a new streamlined form of PFI (Press Release; Hansard). (27 April)

Minister for the Armed Forces Bob Ainsworth announced a multi-million pound contract to build new state-of-the-art Defence Intelligence facilities at RAF Wyton in Huntingdon (Press Release). (29 April)


“Winter” The Audit Commission publish their report on Service Families Accommodation.
‘Early 2009’ Consortium DTZ reports on the potential regional economic impacts of a Severn tidal scheme in Wales
Early May 2009 Simon Fraser to begin role as Permanent Secretary in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Friday 01 May 2009 Consultation on the Welsh Assembly Government’s National Housing Strategy closes
Tuesday 05 May 2009 Holyrood conference on rural transport

Wednesday 06 May 2009 RICS event on life cycle costing of buildings

Wednesday 06 May 2009 Climate change and local transport seminar

Thursday 07 May 2009 NEW! CEPS conference on the role of PPP in protecting critical infrastructure
Thursday 07 - Friday 08 May 2009 Education Buildings Development Officer Group (EBDOG) conference

Friday 08 May 2009 Deadline for submission of responses to the DECC consultation on their Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HES) and the consultation on CLG’s Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP)
Friday 08 May 2009 Welsh Assembly Government consultation on proposed changes to the Hazardous Waste Regulations closes
Monday 11 May 2009 NEW! Communities and Local Government Committee hearing on proposed changes to Planning Policy Statement 6 on town centres
Monday 11 May 2009 NEW! BPF seminar on driving local economic development: understanding the impact of the governance changes
Monday 11-12 May 2009 NEW! Contract Management, Performance Monitoring & Dispute Resolution for PPP/PFI Projects Conference

Tuesday 12 May 2009 Welsh Housing Related Support Strategy consultation closes

Tuesday 12 May 2009 Holyrood conference on Apprenticeships and vocational training: Skills for sustainability
Tuesday 12 May 2009 Policy Exchange event on simplifying waste management

Wednesday 13 May 2009 Consultation on European Commission proposals to recast the EC Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS)
Wednesday 13 May 2009 British Property Federation master class series delivering successful regeneration in challenging times
Thursday 14 May 2009 WEETF event on the future of UK airports

Thursday 14 May 2009 All Party Urban Development Group inquiry on regeneration industry closes
Thursday 14 May 2009 All Party Urban Development Group oral evidence session on the regeneration industry
Friday 15 May 2009 Transport Group quarterly meeting

Monday 18 May 2009 NEW! Communities and Local Government Committee hearing on proposed changes to Planning Policy Statement 6 on town centres
Mon 18 - Tues 19 May 2009 Sustainable Supply Chain Construction Summit 2009

Tuesday 19 May 2009 ABI/IUA Environmental Liability in force: What does it mean for you? seminar

Tues 19 - Wed 20 May 2009 HSE conference InterConstruct 09: Health & safety in a challenging and multicultural industry
Wednesday 20 May 2009 Holyrood conference on Regeneration: Sustaining development in times of recession
Friday 22 May 2009 Bioenergy Action Plan for Wales consultation closes

Thursday 28 May 2009 The Fog of Games: Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberty
Reporting the London Olympics lecture

Thursday 28 May 2009 NEW! Scottish Cross Party Construction Group meeting

Friday 29 May 2009 Deadline for submissions of responses to the Department of Innovation, Universities & Skills consultation on the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE).
‘Summer 2009’ IEA published their global strategy on energy consumption in buildings
June Grants under the Low Carbon Building Programme come to an end
Monday 01 June 2009 Industry and Parliament Trust Transforming Transport: Unlocking the UK’s economic potential lunchtime briefing

Thursday 04 June 2009 Local and European elections
Tuesday 09 June 2009 All Party Urban Development Group seminar on the Community Infrastructure Levy: Getting the Design Right
Wednesday 10 June 2009 Local Government Association holds Selecting Sustainability: the LGA Sustainable Communities Act conference

Thursday 11 June 2009 BPF holds Outer London Summit on planning and regeneration
Friday 12 June 2009 Susan Kramer MP’s Airport Expansion (Parliamentary Approval Bill) is given Second Reading in the Commons
Friday 12 June 2009 NEW! Government reshuffle expected
Saturday 16 June 2009 BPF Annual Conference

Saturday 16 June 2009 NEW! One day conference ‘Sustainable Flood Risk Management in Scotland: Implementation and Key Legislation’
Friday 19 June 2009 DCLG’s consultation on the Pre-Application Consultation and Application Procedures for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects closes
Wednesday 24 June 2009 CBI Property Breakfast Series

Wednesday 24 June 2009 Conference on Zero Carbon Homes & Non-Domestic Buildings
Wednesday 24 June 2009 Scottish Government consultation on the Scottish Planning Policy closes
Wednesday 24 June 2009 NLGN and LGC conference: Economic Development and Regeneration
Wed 24 - Thu 25 Jun 2009 NEW! PPP in Europe Conference

Wed 24 - Thu 25 Jun 2009 IEA conference on the future of rail

Thursday 25 June 2009 Consultation on proposed changes to the Local Authority building control charging regime
Tuesday 30 June 2009 Flood and Coastal Risk Management Conference 2009

July 2009 Sir Ian McAllister steps down as Chairman of Network Rail
Friday 03 July 2009 Improving payment practices in the construction industry in Northern Ireland consultation closes

Tuesday 07-08 July 2009 NEW! Infrastructure & Project Finance Forum 2009

Wednesday 22 July 2009 NEW! Defra’s consultation on implementing the abstraction elements of the Water Act 2003 closes
Wednesday 22 July 2009 NEW! Welsh consultation ‘Towards Zero Waste’

Friday 24 July 2009 NEW! Defra’s consultation on the Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice closes
Friday 24 July 2009 NEW! Defra’s Consultation on the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill closes
Friday 24 July 2009 NEW! Consultation on the Welsh Government’s proposed regulatory framework for housing associations
August 2009 Sarah McAdam starts role as Chief Executive of the Commission for Rural Communities
Wednesday 09 September 2009 London Mayor’s transport advisor Kulveer Ranger speaks to WEETF on urban mobility (Agenda)

Wednesday 09 September 2009 CBI Property Breakfast Series

Wednesday 09 September 2009 Conference on Urban Mobility

Friday 11 September 2009 Transport Group quarterly meeting

Wednesday 16 September 2009 WEETF seminar on the Heat and Energy Saving Strategy - reducing emissions from existing buildings
Sat 19 - Wed 23 Sep 2009 Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Bournemouth

Sat 26 - Wed 30 Sep 2009 Labour Party Conference, Brighton

Mon 05 - Thu 08 Oct 2009 Conservative Party Conference, Manchester

Thursday 12 November 2009 Transport Group quarterly meeting

December CBI Transport Summit
‘End of the year’ The IEA publishes its ‘Building a Sustainable Future: The Residential and Service Sectors’ report
‘Early 2010’ NAO publish report on Partnerships in NHS hospitals















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