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CSCS chief: ‘I can no longer work with chairman’

Brian Adams accuses Trevor Walker of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ and asks for ‘intermediary’ in dealings between the two.

The chief executive of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme Brian Adams has asked directors to appoint an intermediary to deal with chairman Trevor Walker after accusing him of “unacceptable” behaviour.

In an exchange of emails seen by Construction News, Mr Adams said he could no longer work with Mr Walker, following a series of hostile exchanges.

“I have previously commented to you on the tone you used in another email. I have also found your behaviour unacceptable in a number of recent telephone conversations.”

Brian Adams, chief executive, CSCS

Mr Adams – who tendered his resignation earlier this year, but subsequently agreed to stay on six months to deal with the crisis – said he could still leave at Christmas if the board wanted.

He wrote:  “I have previously commented to you on the tone you used in another email. I have also found your behaviour unacceptable in a number of recent telephone conversations.

“I am in the fortunate position that I have already tendered my resignation to take effect at Christmas and if it is the wish of the board I can still leave at that time.

“I very much regret that our relationship has reached its current state and have to inform you, the board and the owners that I can no longer work with you.

“I would therefore ask the directors to put arrangements in place so that there is an intermediary between us for the period that CSCS wish me to remain chief executive.”

Mr Adams confirmed his position in a statement to Construction News.

He said:  “I can no longer work with Trevor Walker as chairman and am awaiting advice from the CSCS board as to how to proceed.”

Mr Adams’ email came in response to a scathing message from Mr Walker, attacking the chief executive for avoiding discussions on several topics.

Mr Walker said he was “amazed” Mr Adams had failed to raise issues including CSCS payments to the National Specialist Contractors Council, a letter relating to FMB board representative Philip Russell and the potential cancellation of a stakeholders meeting.

Mr Walker said:  “The serious threats that CSCS faces can only be dealt with if we all work collectively together and more importantly speak with one agreed
voice.

“I hope you agree with this sentiment and understand that I am unable to act properly as chairman in CSCS’ best interests without your support.”

The breakdown in relations is the latest in the long running saga of board level disputes relating to Mr Walker’s chairmanship of the 1.7 million member card scheme.

It comes after five directors representing seven of the owners of CSCS attempted to oust Mr Walker via a no confidence vote this summer.

Mr Walker survived after casting the deciding vote in his own favour.

The owner members – including the NSCC, UK Contractors Group, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Industry Council and Federation of Master Builders - refused to work with CSCS further until a new chairman was appointed.

But the FMB’s representative on the board of directors Philip Russell added to the dispute by attending the latest board meeting against the wishes of FMB leadership.

Mr Adams announced earlier this month he had abandoned plans to retire at Christmas and would instead hand over to a new chief executive next summer.

It is understood CSCS had been unable to appoint his successor while several directors refused to attend meetings until Mr Walker stepped down.

The dispute has caused significant frustration in the industry with contractors keen to see it resolved.

An industry source said:  “The CSCS chairman has now managed to alienate practically everybody involved in the scheme.  It now cannot move forward until the chairman does the decent thing and resigns.”   

It is hoped the matter could be resolved next month when the owners and three union directors will meet to attempt to agree on a successor to Mr Walker.

By convention it is the union’s turn to put forward a candidate for chairman, but with an ongoing leadership crisis at the biggest construction union UCATT, it is understood no candidate has been found.

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