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Signoff: David Taylor

WHOEVER would have thought that Gleeson would bale out of the construction market?

Not I, certainly.

Let's look at the recent past.Gleeson's sparkling financial results were soiled by the shoddy performance of its two construction divisions last year.

Gleeson had a big restructure, combining the two divisions into one semi-autonomous body called Gleeson Building. In the process it sacked 40 people and brought in two new directors from outside the company.One of them comes from Carillion - which used to be the called Tarmac Construction.

Now the two new directors are leading a buyout of the business, raising the exciting prospect of another daft rebranding exercise.

Watch this space for news of expensive new logos in soft pastel hues and the emergence of yet another fake-Latin company name. I can't wait.

NOW THAT chancellor Gordon Brown has promised to spend £9 billion on the construction and refurbishment of our primary schools, the fight to ensure Labour gets re-elected starts in earnest.

I am more than happy to spearhead this initiative.

Say what you like about Tony Blair (and as I'm collecting insults, you're welcome to e-mail them to me) only Labour has anything to offer the built environment.

The Tories are only interested in moving 'travellers' off their illegal sites (they could start with the three mobile homes at the end of my road) but they don't have any plans to pump more money into construction.

And the Liberal Democrats only have one message - 'Look at me, I'm Charles Kennedy'which has nothing at all to commend itself to our industry.

Whether this should remain just my own personal rallying cry or whether it will develop into a properly organised campaign with a slogan and everything depends largely on whether or not I can get some public sector funding.

Nevertheless I have already enlisted the support of some of construction's most respected names.Mike Welton (Balfour Beatty), Ray O'Rourke (Laing O'Rourke) Jason Millett (Bovis Lend Lease), Sir Neville Simms (Carillion), Sir Peter Mason (Amec) and Alan Crane (this'n'that) to name but five industry big-hitters, have yet to hear from me on this matter.

But don't wait for me - get out there and start campaigning. Place adverts in your local paper;

get your kids to make posters.This is your industry we're talking about.Get Tony back into Number 10 and try to persuade him to build a nice big extension on the back.

LORD, what a time we had at the Quality Awards knees-up last week!

Only kidding - I wasn't there. For the first time in about six years I had an important prior engagement and couldn't make it (which is tragic when you consider it means missing a whole evening's free food and drink).

I wasn't the only attendee to cry off at the last minute, either.No less a person than the evening's guest host (that Hancock bloke who hosts They Think It's All Over on the TV) backed out at the last minute with a sore throat.

I'm told by reliable sources that he offered to pitch up anyway for the nosh and would deliver one characteristically over-rehearsed joke but that would be our lot. I'm very pleased to say that Construction News took its money elsewhere and found a funny little chap called Dominic Holland who stepped in at the last minute and did everybody proud.

What does this tell us about the world of showbiz? Only that you know you've arrived when you can pass up the chance to earn the equivalent of a construction director's monthly salary in one night just because you've got a sore throat.

cneditorial@emap. com