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Construction Parliamentary Update - 12 September

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

GENERAL

On Thursday Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the £910 million deal whereby energy companies would help the Government support vulnerable households with efficiency saving measures and will make greater contributions to the government's carbon emissions reduction targets scheme (Press Release; BBC; BBC). Conservative Business Spokesperson Alan Duncan said Brown had “nothing to offer” those suffering from fuel poverty, although he is vehemently opposed to a windfall tax (Press Release). Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable said energy firms “got off very lightly”. (07 – 11 September)

The Local Government Association (LGA) appointed Margaret Eaton as their new chairman (Press Release). (11 September)

The London Assembly received a report on the proposed reorganisation of the Greater London Authority (GLA) (Press Release; Press Release). (11 September)

London Mayor Boris Johnson appeared before his bi-annual public question time (Press Release; Video; Questions). (10 September)

Conservative Chancellor George Osborne said his party couldn’t commit to the Government’s spending plans after 2011 (Telegraph). Labour Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell attacked the comments saying it revealed the Conservatives lack of commitment to public services (Financial Times) (09 September)

The Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee took evidence from Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney (Papers; Minutes). (09 September)

The Cabinet met in Birmingham. It was the first time since the 1920s that ministers have met outside London. The Times reported on Gordon Brown’s forward to a report for conference, which the paper surmised suggested Mr. Brown’s speech would be more humble. (08 September)

Caroline Lucas was elected as the party leader of the UK Green Party at their autumn conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London (BBC). The winner of the deputy leadership ballot, Adrian Ramsay, spoke on the final day of the Green Party's annual gathering (Speech). (05 – 08 September)

GENERAL PPP/PFI/FINANCE/PROCUREMENT

The Scottish Futures Trust appointed Sir Angus Grossart as its new Chairman (Press Release). (11 September)

PA Consulting, the first firm to lose prisoners’ data on a memory stick had its contract with the Home Office rescinded (BBC). (10 September)

The Scottish Finance Committee took evidence on its inquiry into the methods of funding capital investment projects (Papers; Minutes). (09 September)

PLANNING

London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke at the London Planning awards calling for “timeless designs” (Press Release). (11 September)

The Northern Ireland Committee for the Environment received a briefing on the department's meeting with British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) regarding supplementary planning guidance (Committee Website). (11 September)

Housing Minister Caroline Flint announced new development rules which would reduce barriers to home improvements (Press Release). The British Property Federation (BPF) welcomed the move (Press Release). (10 September)

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) hailed the Planning Inspector’s decision to dismiss Tesco’s planning appeal on its proposed supermarket at Sheringham in Norfolk (Press Release). (10 September)

The Guardian reported that the UN’s cultural agency Unesco wanted to put some landmarks on its list of world heritage sites in danger after its experts accused the UK of damaging some historically significant sites. (08 September)

The Welsh Assembly published responses from individuals, businesses, events, others, local authorities, local groups, Communities First Partnerships, national and regional organisations and County Voluntary Councils (CVCs) to its communities first consultation. (05 September)

CONSTRUCTION

MSP minister for community safety Fergus Ewing defended the Scottish Government’s decision to draft legislation to overturn a decision by the House of Lords stopping some people with asbestos-related condition from making claims (Press Association). (11 September)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) appointed Kevin Myers as its new Chief Executive (Press Release). (11 September)

Skills Secretary John Denham and Schools Secretary Ed Balls announced that the minimum wage for young people doing apprenticeships would rise from £80 to £95 (Press Release; Press Release). In his speech to the TUC Mr Denham also announced a package of measures to support the construction industry to continue to meet the demand for skilled workers (Press Release). The Federation of Master Builders said apprenticeships were the key to skills shortages (Press Release). (09 September)

The BPF held the first London major projects forum, where it published research arguing tall and high density buildings will reap economic benefits (Press Release; BBC Radio 5 Interview). (09 September)

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a summary and analysis of the responses to the consultation on ‘Simplified arrangements for the production of CO2 emission rate calculations for new buildings under the Building Regulations 2000.’ (09 September)

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) published a national manufacturing strategy, focussing on supporting a low carbon economy and skills amongst other things. (08 September)

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) published quarterly building price and cost indices. (08 September)

The Environment Agency launched a consultation on recycling ash waste from coal-fired power stations for use in construction materials (Press Release). (08 September)

The Office for National Statistics released figures on output and employment in the construction industry for the second quarter of 2008. (05 September)

HOUSING AND REGENERATION

Housing minister Caroline Flint announced a homelessness initiative "take up the challenge" which asked homelessness charities aim to employ at least 10 per cent of their workforce with people who used to be homeless (Press Release). The same day Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps published figures showing that the number of homeless people leaving hospital has increased by 53% in five years and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published statutory homelessness statistics for April to June 2008. (11 September)

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said there was “no quick fix” for the mortgage market (ePolitix). (11 September)

Barratt Homes reported profits falling by 68% on the previous year (BBC). (10 September)

The Scottish Government published secure accommodation statistics for 2007-08. (10 September)

The Welsh Assembly Government published statistics on new house building from April to June 2008 and registered social landlords’ stock estimates. (10 September)

Graham Beale, the chief executive of the Nationwide Building Society said he thought house prices could drop by up to 25% from their peak (BBC). The National Association of Estate Agents didn’t agree (BBC). (09 September)

The Council of Mortgage Lenders published regulated mortgage survey data which they said showed tighter lending criteria and falling house prices were still discouraging first time buyers (Press Release). (09 September)

Northern Ireland First Minister Rt Hon Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met with representatives from the construction sector at Stormont Castle to discuss falling activity in the housing market (Press Release). (09 September)

Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell visited Barrhead open work on an affordable housing development (Press Release). (09 September)

The National Housing Federation published a report which concluded that by the end of 2009 5.7m households (about one in four) in the UK would be in fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their income on energy (Press Release). (08 September)

Shares in Europe and Asia rallied after the US Government took over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (BBC). Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is under increasing pressure to revitalise the UK’s housing market, supported the move (Financial Times). (08 September)

4Ps and Deloitte jointly published their handbook on regeneration for local authorities. (05 September)

The All Party Urban Development Group published a new inquiry into ‘Creating long-lasting jobs through regeneration’. The deadline for submissions is Monday 13 October. (05 September)

The National House-Building Council (NHBC) said new home starts had fallen by almost half on figures for the previous year (Press Release). (05 September)

EDUCATION

Ministers paid visits to BSF schools in Waltham Forest, Bristol, Manchester, Burnley, Leeds and Bradford (Press Release). (10 September)

Tower Hamlets announced Bouygues as its partner for its BSF programme (Press Release). (09 September)

TRANSPORT

Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick spoke at the Freight Transport 2008 conference at the Barbican, announcing extra funding for the Sustainable Distribution Fund (Press Release). (11 September)

The Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee held a debate as part of their inquiry into ferry services in Scotland. (10 September)

Transport for London (TfL) said the tubes would face a shortfall of more than £1 billion if the its allowance for the maintenance and renewal works on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines from 2010 to 2017 is not increased. TfL said it could seek external funding (Press Release). (09 September)

The London Transport Committee held a seminar on the cross river tram and considered a proposal for an investigation into rail overcrowding in London (Press Release; Press Release). (09 September)

Network Rail issued its response to the Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) draft determination on punctuality and disruption. (08 September)

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced ‘dial-a-ride’ minibuses for elderly residents who can’t use public transport (Press Release). (05 September)

The London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross attacked Boris Johnson’s decision to raise bus and tube fares (Press Release). (05 September)

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Norman Baker published statistics showing that almost 40% of personal injuries from road accidents resulted from road collisions with lorries (Press Release). (05 September)

OLYMPICS AND 2012

Adidas committed £1m investment in the encouragement of young people to participate in sport, including the creation of outdoor sport venues (Press Release). (11 September)

Shortlists of contractors to build the White Water Canoe Centre in Broxbourne and the Handball Arena for the London 2012 Games was announced (Press Release; Press Release). (10 September)

Olympian Chris Hoy unveiled plans for the London 2012 VeloPark (Press Release; Press Release). (09 September)

Opinium Research published a survey which said that just 11 per cent of Britons believe the government is capable of managing the 2012 London Olympics (Results). (05 September)

The shortlist of contractors to build the rowing and canoeing facilities for the 2012 Olympics was announced (Press Release). (05 September)

FLOODING

The Fire Brigades' Union called on the government to do more to prepare for the risk of flooding in a motion at the TUC conference. They claimed a "lack of clarity" and an ongoing "lack of adequate preparation". (10 September)

Communities Minister John Healy praised the swift efforts of One NorthEast and urged it to work towards the aim of long-term regeneration of flood-damaged areas (Press Release). (10 September)

The RNLI said they would double the number of inland lifeboats, as it would increasingly focus on work flooding relief in future (Guardian). (08 September)

After flooding wracked Britain over the weekend, the MET Office warned that the end of Hurricane Hanna would hit Britain on Thursday (Press Release; Daily Express). Environment Minister John Healy met insurance leaders later to discuss how it would deal with the many claims. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the bill for this wave of floods could run into the “low tens of millions” (Guardian). (08 September)

WASTE AND UTILITIES

London mayor Boris Johnson chaired the inaugural meeting of the London Waste and Recycling Board (Press Release). (11 September)

Dr Olcay Unver, director of the United Nations' Global Water Assessment Unit said that Countries across the world should dramatically increase investment in water infrastructure to avoid widespread flooding, drought and disease (Guardian). (11 September)

The Consumer Council for Water said complaints to water companies rose by 11% on the previous year (Press Release; Table). (09 September)

FUTURE EVENTS

Sun 14 to Wed 17 September - Liberal Democrat Party Conference (Bournemouth)

Wed 17 September - Defra consultation on the controls on the handling, transfer and transport of waste closes

Thursday 18 September - Welsh Assembly consultation on WeITAG closes

Thursday 18 September PfS Annual Conference: Delivering Sustainable Success Through BSF