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THE MONTH kicked off with a revolution in the way roads will be built in the UK: contractor,

consultant and client working on the £200 million M1/A1 widening in Yorkshire signed up for the first partnering agreement on a private road scheme.

October was also a month of job cuts. Utility Cables dumped scores of subbies across the country as it slashed its number of operating companies from six to two. And a row broke out after contractor O'Rourke announced 50 redundancies at the £350 million Bluewater project in Kent, with workers accusing the firm of replacing them with subbies to cut costs.

Health and Safety issues also figured high on the October agenda. Campaigners claimed that delays in issuing new guidelines for scaffolding were putting construction workers and the public at risk, after three major collapses on busy streets within six months. The HSE also warned that firms involved in the Heathrow tunnelling collapse in 1994 could face charges.

A cancer scare broke out, with the EC branding a range of building insulation products as potentially carcinogenic. And there were warnings that construction workers on sewer jobs faced an increasing threat of contracting killer diseases as Britain's rat population soared.