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Construction Parliamentary Update - 21 May 2010

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

PPP/PFI

Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Government would take action to bring all of Britain’s PFI deals onto the balance sheet for the first time, a move that could see the countries level of debt rise to £1.8 trillion. Sir Alan Budd will lead the new Office for Budget Responsibility in an audit which will produce forecasts of growth and debt for the emergency budget (17 May).

 

CONSTRUCTION

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published its latest workloads survey showing the first positive return for over two years, with 5% more respondents saying workloads were increasing than said work was falling (20 May).

The Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group for Construction held their Annual General Meeting (19 May).

Construction sites in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire have been criticised for failing safety inspections. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that one in three sites in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and two out of three sites in Lincolnshire failed safety inspections (18 May).

Mark Prisk MP was appointed to the role of Construction Minister as part of Vince Cable MP’s Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) department team. He was previously Shadow Construction Minister for over four years and he is a chartered surveyor by profession (17 May).

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) released their survey ’ Ready to Grow: business priorities for education and skills’, which showed that as demand for qualified people rises, those without skills will be less in demand. The report concludes that despite the recession, nearly half of employers are having difficulties recruiting staff including those with technical and engineering skills. The report also showed that employers in the construction industry remained committed to providing apprenticeships (16 May).

 

REGENERATION

The British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) hosted a Post Election Regeneration Summit attended by Richard Blakely, advisor for housing to the Major of London, who said that the Government planned to replicate across the UK the incorporation of the Homes and Communities Agencies (HCA)spending into the Greater London Authorities (19 May).

 

HOUSING

A survey conducted by ComRes revealed that of the 150 MPs from the last Parliament surveyed, 72% agreed that housing is one of the top three problems raised by their constituents and half of all MPs agreed that housing is the most common problem that constituents seek help on (18 May).

Following the appointment of Eric Pickles MP to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), it was also announced that Grant Shapps MP will be Minister for Housing (14 May).

Nicky Gavron was appointed as the new chair of the London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee. She has been a London Assembly member since 2000 and during the 1990’s was the leader of the London Planning Advisory Committee (LPAC), she was also the first statutory Deputy Mayor of London (13 May).

 

EDUCATION

The Government announced that it had put a £55 billion school rebuilding programme under review, freezing plans for hundreds of new secondary’s in England. The Department for Education may redirect money to help start the Swedish-style free schools the Conservatives would like to introduce (14 May).

 

HEALTH

Research conducted by University College London (UCL) and KPMG found that NHS hospitals built with private sector money are cleaner than hospitals built with public sector financing. Academics studied data on hospitals built since 1995 and concluded that hospitals operating under PFI have better patient environment ratings that conventionally funded hospitals of similar age (17 May).

 

TRANSPORT

Following the announcement by Chancellor George Osborne that PFI projects would be included in the review spending on public initiatives, Sheffield MP David Blunkett wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP urging that the £650 million PFI scheme to rebuild Sheffield’s roads be ‘saved’ (19 May).

The National Audit Office (NAO) announced that it will be launching an investigation into the £6.2 billion M25 road-widening PFI deal. Following fears that the 30 year contract negotiated during the height of the financial crisis, will not provide value for money for the Highways Agency (16 May).

Following the appointment of Rt Hon Phillip Hammond MP to Secretary of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers MP was appointed to Minister of State for Transport and Norman Baker MP, and Mike Penning MP as Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for Transport (14 May).

Valerie Shawcross was appointed as the new chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee. She is a former Labour Party National Women’s Officer, Croydon councillor between 1994 and 2000 and has worked for the Inner London Education Authority (13 May).

The Scottish Parliament Forth Crossing Bill Committee published a report on the Forth Crossing Bill and called on Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney MP to explain how the construction of the £2 billion crossing will affect the Government’s other capital budgets (13 May).

 

OLYMPICS AND 2012

Prime Minister, David Cameron announced the appointment of Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP as the new Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. Jeremy Hunt is the Conservative MP for South West Surrey, in December 2005 he was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People and in July 2007 appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport (14 May).

Hugh Robertson MP was appointed Minister for Sport and the Olympics, he was elected to Parliament in June 2001 as the MP for Favershaw and Kent and has been Shadow Minister for Sport and the Olympics since 2005 (14 May).

 

WASTE AND UTILITIES

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is set to launch a review of national infrastructure; the competition watchdog will map out ownership and control of economic infrastructure sectors -such as ports, airports, energy and water networks, to assess how consumers in each market are affected. (14 May)

 

POLICE, FIRE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Prison Reform Trust urged the new Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke to halt prison building, and focus on developing an effective penal policy (19 May).

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the appointment of Kenneth Clarke MP as Secretary of State for Justice, he is a former criminal barrister and was previously Shadow Secretary of State for Business (14 May).

 

DEFENCE

The Ministry of Defence announced that it is halting the redevelopment project at Beacon Barracks in Stafford, despite having already procured the £150 million main contract (17 May).

 

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