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Construction Parliamentary Update - 09 January 2009

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster over the last seven days brought to you by the Madano Partnership.

GENERAL PPP/PFI

Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined further details of the Government’s strategy for investment in public works to help stimulate the economy, promising a capital investment programme totalling £40 billion across the UK in 2009 (Press Release; Press Release). (04 January)

PLANNING

The Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee took evidence on the national planning framework 2 (Papers, Minutes, Official Meeting Report). (06 January)

The Scottish Government claimed figures showed it had successfully sped up the planning process (Press Release). (05 January)

CONSTRUCTION

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills announced funding for an additional 35,000 apprentices (Press Release). Conservative Shadow Skills Secretary David Willetts said that the Conservatives believed that apprenticeships “to A-level standard and with a recognised employer, has been falling under this government” (Press Release). (07 January)

The SNP claimed that Labour would consider tolling on the Forth Bridge if in power and promised that the bridge would not use tolls (Press Release; Press Release). (07 January)

The Cips/Markit UK construction purchasing managers’ index fell to a level of 29.3 from a reading of 31.8 in November. This was the 10th successive month that the index indicated contraction (Financial Times). (05 January)

The UK Contractors Group (UKCG) was launched. (05 January)

HOUSING

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) brought together executives from the housing, and finance sectors to talk about difficulties in rural housing. The event was led by Sir Bob Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) (Press Release). (08 January)

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett announced an £18 million deal to buy unwanted homes through the Government's National Clearing House from Bovis Homes (Press Release). The Independent said it was further evidence of weakness in the market. (07 January)

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) attacked the review of the Regional Spatial Strategy plan for Yorkshire and Humberside criticising possible housing on Greenfield sites (Press Release). (07 January)

The Nationwide reported that house prices fell 2.5% in December, increasing the annual fall to 15.9%. Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable commented that "Prices have now fallen nearly 20% from their peak and may well have just as far to fall again" (Press Release). (06 January)

The Government announced further homeowner support, extending Support for Mortgage Interest to £200,000 (BBC). (05 January)

Sir John Harman, former Chairman of the Environment Agency, was appointed to the National House-Building Council (NHBC) Board of Directors (Press Release). (05 January)

EDUCATION

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls opened a Building Schools for the Future school in Knowsley (Press Release). (08 January)

The Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee published a report on public expenditure. It warned that schools and children's services would face tighter funding. Liberal Democrat children, schools and families spokesman David Laws said "The coming years will see a massive squeeze on schools’ budgets, with many of them experiencing real cuts. This makes a mockery of Labour's promise to prioritise education and create world class schools" (Press Release). Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that it was “vital that education funding maintains its upward trajectory so that Gordon Brown’s commitment to matching spending for schools in the state sector with that of the private sector is realised" (Press Release). (07 January)

Scottish Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced a package of measures aimed improving efficiency in schools and meeting the Government’s commitments to have renewable generation in every school that will be required under the Scottish Climate Change Bill (Press Release). (05 January)

TRANSPORT

The Financial Times reported that the Conservatives were likely to reverse their policy of unifying track and train operations and accept the railway industry’s structure should remain largely as it is. (08 January)

London Underground published the annual tubes Public Private Partnership (PPP) report, saying that maintenance and renewal of the Tube is keeping pace with demand (Press Release). Transport for London’s (TfL) Managing Director Tim O'Toole said that the Tube's wider investment programme could be under threat due to the "excesses of the PPP” and that the Government must ensure the tube’s future. (07 January)

The Guardian reported that transport minister Lord Adonis supported a £4.5 billion international rail exchange for Heathrow airport. Some environmental campaigners described the move as a "cynical ploy" to cover government plans to expand Heathrow. (05 January)

Crossrail announced that DHL Exel Supply Chain, will work on a logistics study to minimise the impact of Crossrail’s construction on central London (Press Release). (05 January)

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Norman Baker proposed a one-year freeze in the cost of rail season tickets and saver tickets (Press Release). (02 January)

FLOODING

London mayor Boris Johnson launched the WWF’s London Rivers Action Plan, which suggested ways to reduce flooding (Action Plan). (08 January)

FUTURE EVENTS

Monday 12 January 2009

The UK Parliament returns from Winter Recess

The Welsh Assembly Government’s consultation on the draft guidelines to enable Social Housing Grant (SHG) funded Do It Yourself Homebuy to be included in the SHG programme from 2009/10 closes.

The Scottish Government consultation on extending the FOI Act to third sector bodies that award public contracts closes.

Friday 16 January 2009

Deadline for submissions to the OFT on their market study on home buying and selling.