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Tories on the right road to win votes

AGENDA

WHATEVER your view about the Tories' claim to be the Government in waiting, they have hit on a few things that will loudly chime with the concerns of many people in construction.

The first is the present state of the Government's road building plans.The Labour Government says investment in roads is rising fast. But most civil engineers believe this is far from reality, arguing in fact the brakes are being gently applied in the hope that nobody will notice a slowdown.

It will be a few weeks before the truth is known when the now overdue Highways Agency spending review is published.

In the meantime, shadow transport minister Tim Yeo has cleverly exploited this conflict with talk about revitalising road building by, among other things, stepping up the number of major new toll roads.

What will strike an even bigger chord with contractors is the Tory plan to turn back the tide of rules and regulations overwhelming everybody in construction today.

At site level this has turned project managers into penpushers and filing clerks, a far cry from the sort of hands-on engineering they expected to be doing.

Then there are the hard-worked bosses of smaller firms.

Not only do they have to contend with piles of tendering paperwork, but also record staff working hours, and consult with the workforce over everything.

This is fertile ground for any political party seeking to win favour.And all, including our present Government, which is in a position to do something about it now, should take note.

It is not that regulation is bad in itself, but what the industry needs is effective regulation that makes things happen.There are some signs that this could be achieved with the long overdue planned reforms to CDM safety requirements.Much more could be done if we really want to cut the waste in our society.