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UK construction should be proud of Wembley project


Sir, I am appalled at the press coverage of the Wembley Stadium construction.

One of the country's major construction achievements is being lampooned both nationally and internationally.

It makes us look like a bunch of 'nonachievers', yet the truth could not be further removed.

It makes little difference that the actual management of the project was awarded to an Australian company, the mud will stick to the UK industry.

How many court cases, administrations, liquidations and other litigious 'goings on' are being fuelled by the stress of this?

The solution is simple: projects of this nature should not be dealt with by engaging any one organisation to take the risk of time and cost from the start.

The contractor or manager should be selected based on other criteria, such as its experience, management team, resources, supply chain, methodology and health and safety record.

The system should be similar to management contracting, but actually work. With the level of panic on site at Wembley Stadium, I wouldn't mind betting that the 'snag' list will cover more pages than War and Peace.

The realistic cost for this stadium may indeed be £750 million (or whatever), and the realistic timescale to build it (starting from a position of genuine design completeness) may well be four years (or whatever).

Had the project been conceived in such a way as to use the best that the UK industry has to offer perhaps it may have cost £100 million less and been completed a year sooner.

It is high time that some real accord be considered between the various bodies that control our industry. We must impose upon potential clients a format to offer the best procurement solution for landmark projects.

Perhaps we could also keep them intrinsically British.

If the price of raw steel increases, say, 30 per cent due to factors outside the control of the contractors, then this cost must either end up being faced by the client ? and is not the real risk in any such venture with the client? ? or dissipated by some design changes or specification alterations elsewhere. Why does it have to potentially put someone out of business or end up in court?

Design the job to achieve short-term, fixed package prices but, overall, let the client pay for what he is getting: professional management and the best team for the job.

Some very clever people would have to do some hard work to create such a procurement framework, but does a client really get value for money when you tell him it's going to cost one thing and you latter realise that it is actually going to cost more and take longer?

We will have the new Wembley Stadium for many years and it should be something to be extremely proud of but, instead of pride, we currently have derision. It could have been different and unless the industry gets together it will happen again.

John A Jones BSc MCIOB Undy Monmouthshire