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Industry urged to form ‘alliance’

The construction industry has been urged to establish a ‘Construction Industry Alliance’ to strengthen its lobbying of government amid claims the strategic forum and CBI council are not sufficient.

Bill Bolsover, chairman of the Construction Products Association, floated the idea at the association’s autumn lunch last week. He said despite the size and importance of the construction industry, there was no single body that could speak on behalf of the whole industry.

He said existing bodies, such as the Strategic Forum for Construction and the CBI Construction Council, were not sufficient. The strategic forum “has never been resourced adequately or attracted the industry’s major companies” and the CBI council “has an important role in influencing the CBI agenda, but it can hardly claim to represent the whole industry through the 30 companies that sit around the table”, he said.

Mr Bolsover himself sits on the CBI council in his role as non-executive chairman of Aggregate Industries.

“We all do our bit in lobbying government and in terms of the amount we write between us, I suspect we beat all other industries. The trouble is that this gives the government the opportunity to ignore what we say – as it often does,” he said.

After his speech, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and the National Federation of Builders said they supported the idea.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “The extremely challenging conditions that the industry faces should act as a demand to do better. We welcome Bill Bolsover’s comments and hope they will spark a debate, leading to the creation of a single, strong and inclusive body to represent the industry at the highest levels in Westminster and Whitehall.”

But the Federation of Master Builders was less enthusiastic. Director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “Rather than creating a new construction industry alliance where I’m doubtful there would be a single voice because it would be so watered down, the challenge is to make the SFC work in a more effective way.”

A source close to the UKCG said large contractors were “hugely underwhelmed by the suggestion” and would rather put their efforts into improving the work of the “evolving” CBI council.

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