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Councils snub local project pipelines

A row is developing between the UK Contractors Group and the Local Government Association after the LGA appeared to snub a national pledge to produce local construction pipelines.

The government-backed pledge, setting out national policy on procurement, has been signed by organisations including the UKCG, the Confederation of British Industry, manufacturing group the EEF, BAE Systems, British Chambers of Commerce and Network Rail.

But in a document on its website, the LGA said that “having had sight of the proposals the LGA’s improvement board has decided that it is not in local government’s interests to sign up to the procurement concordat or support the idea of sectoral ‘pipelines’.”

An LGA spokesman said the association was consulting on its own procurement pledge until 8 June. Some local authorities already published pipelines, he added.

But the UKCG, which represents major contractors such as Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Skanska, expressed “serious concern” over the LGA’s rejection of construction spending pipelines.

UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said there were several examples of good practice from councils, including Manchester, Hampshire, Birmingham and Salford.

He told CN: “If its website is believed, the LGA seems to be promoting bad practice.”

He warned that a lack of co-operation from the LGA on local pipelines would lead to increased uncertainty for construction firms and further job losses, and called for a meeting with the organisation.

The economic benefits of investing in local construction projects - where every £1 invested in construction generates £2.84 in wider economic activity - needed to be better understood, he said.

He added that some local authorities needed to “shout louder” when looking to attract construction spending to their area, to avoid a continued North-South divide.

LGA improvement board chairman Peter Fleming said: “There is a desire among town halls to build consensus with the government on this issue, but it is important that any agreement isn’t shaped around the interests of big business.

“The local government procurement pledge seeks to address the issues that councils have previously raised about the government’s procurement proposals and the complexity of EU rules around the issue.”


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