Monthly Archives: September 2010

Seven companies fight it out to win £3bn contract for Essex roads

Seven heavyweights of the construction industry are set to fight it out to win a £3 billion highways maintenance contract, according to CN Plus.

Balfour Beatty, Amey, Atkins, Ringway and Jacobs, May Gurney and WSP, Carillon and Mouchel, and Costain are the companies competing for the massive project from Essex County Council, with a bidders day set to be held next month for the shortlisted firms.

The £3 billion contract up for grabs is a combination of several contracts from the council, which include maintenance of all the highways over the next 10 years, and such things like safety inspections, signs, winter maintenance and resurfacing of the highways in the Essex area.

The company chosen for the scheme will be responsible for a traffic control centre as well as carrying out all the work for local boroughs, district councils and all the other services in the Essex area.

This is a major contract that is up for grabs and hundreds of jobs are likely to be created in the company that is hired for this project. The company chosen for the scheme will not start work until spring 2012, as that is when the current contracts from Essex County Council are set to expire. What do you think about this scheme – are Essex’s roads in dire need of repair?

Birmingham set for massive £10bn city redevelopment scheme

Birmingham is set for a major overhaul with plans for a £10 billion development in the city over the next 20 years, which will create thousands of trades jobs.

The Big City Plan will see five key development sites which cover around 800 hectares, including the city centre, New Street station, thousands of new homes and new office space. There is talk that Birmingham may become the first UK city to set up Accelerated Development Zones, which are areas where the council could borrow against rate income paid by new businesses, which is something the government have talked about as a method for councils to fund regeneration schemes.

The plans for Birmingham will see the New Street station completely revamped, which will take five years to complete and cost £600 million, 1.5 million sq. metres of new office space, 5,000 new homes built and a £193 redevelopment of the Birmingham Library.

All of this work in the city is expected to create thousands of trades jobs, as the work is expected to go ahead over the next 20 years. As well as all the building work, Birmingham City Council have announced that they will be building new cycling routes, to make the city more walkable and to meet their target of a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2026.

What do you think about Birmingham’s plans – should other cities in the UK be following their lead?

New survey says London Olympics will be a let-down

The 2012 Olympics in London is set to fall short, with essential public services like transport facilities, healthcare and policing set to not be up to scratch, if you believe a survey published yesterday.

According to the Guardian the research, which was carried out by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), shows that a third (32%) believe public services are good enough to cope with the huge strain that will be placed on them during the Games. This would have serious repercussions for the UK economy, as 77% of those asked believe the Olympics would damage London’s reputation as a major business destination, as well as its reputation amongst tourists. Jo Causon, the CEO of ICS says:

“Any large-scale event inevitably puts increased pressure on public services. However, the worldwide prestige of the Olympics also places these essential services under an intense global media spotlight, rendering excellence in service delivery imperative.”

If the public services fall short, it would cause damage to the UK economy and prove as an embarrassment for the Olympic Delivery Authority, who are in charge of organising the 2012 Games. This survey will be more bad news for the ODA, the same day as its Chief Executive David Higgins announced he is quitting his post to join Network Rail in February 2011, 18 months before the Games is about to start.

Currently the Olympic Delivery Authority has spent around £7.2 billion on the 2012 Games, of which £5 billion has been awarded to British firms to carry out the work on the numerous projects going on, including the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village. The games are predicted to create around £2 billion for the UK economy due to tourism and the hundreds of thousands of people that will arrive in London for the Games.

Do you agree with this survey that the Olympics will be a let-down? Or will it be a success?

Sainsbury’s to open world’s first eco-friendly supermarket

A few weeks ago on the blog I wrote about how Tesco was doing its bit for the trade industry, by building new stores across the country and creating thousands of trades jobs. Now supermarket rival Sainsbury’s is set to open its biggest supermarket in the UK, which is the first eco-friendly supermarket in the country.

Three new Sainsbury’s stores are set to open, with one in Darnley, near Glasgow, one in Newport and the other in Crayford. All three stores will be the biggest Sainsbury’s store, in Scotland, Wales and England respectively. As well as creating hundreds of retail jobs in the new stores and trades jobs as a result of the building work, the new stores will be the first to include new department’s like baby and pet worlds, clothing and an O2 mobile phone area.

The remarkable aspect is that the Crayford store will boast “groundbreaking” environmental features, using technology that heats the store using natural energy. This is the first supermarket in the world to do this and the energy is captured through boreholes, which are buried hundreds of metres below the ground.

This is a good thing because there are thousands of supermarkets all over the UK and the big chains like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda are always building new stores. If the idea of an eco-friendly supermarket that reduces its carbon footprint proves successful and can be implemented across the country, then this would be a great initiative to save energy and help the environment. What do you think of Sainsbury’s and its eco-friendly supermarket?

Morgan Sindall’s new primary school on Merseyside to create more trades jobs

We are remaining on the theme of schools on the blog today, with news that construction firm Morgan Sindall is to build a new £6.1 million primary school on Merseyside, which will create more trades jobs in the area.

According to Career Structure, Park Brow primary school will be rebuilt in Southdene, Kirkby and the new facilities will be added, such as an auditorium, external sports pitches, playing fields and a games arena.

Work on the 3,000 square-metre site should be finished next August and in time for the children to start school in September. Morgan Sindall have also promised to make sure the new school is energy efficient and reduces its carbon footprint.

The building of the primary schools will create more jobs in the area, as those who work as plumbers, electricians or in the construction industry will be needed to renovate the school. The primary school on Merseyside represents a busy time for Morgan Sindall, as they have been awarded a £7.1 million contract to extend a primary school at Wembley in London, as well as building a new £17.8 million lecture theatre at the University of Sussex , which will be completed by April 2012.

Luton schools set for major £34 million revamp

Some of Luton’s secondary schools are set for a major revamp as a £34 million scheme aims to transform the facilities for thousands of local children, as well as creating hundreds of trades jobs in the area.

Ashcroft and Lealands schools are being refurbished with improved facilities that allow each school to cater for more students. Ashcroft school is spending the bulk of the cash, with £18.9 million being spent on building a new theatre, a new science block and a state of the art technology department.

Lealands school will be spending £15.5 million on a full refurbishment of the existing buildings, as well as a new block which will feature new classrooms and community spaces, as well as a new covered courtyard.

Both schools will see the number of pupils increase when the work is completed, with Ashcroft and Lealands both seeing 180 and 140 extra students respectively. The work, which is being undertaken by Wates Construction, is due to be completed in early 2013.

This is good news for both the children and those looking for trades jobs in Luton. Thousands of children will be affected by the refurbishment of the schools, and will get to experience the better facilities at the schools. Jobs will also be created in Luton as a result of this project, as there is lots of construction work needed to renovate both schools.

What do you think of these plans – is Luton in need of further renovation as well as the schools?

New guide released to put a stop to cowboy builders

Cowboy tradesmen are a big problem in the industry, but a new guide is set to stop the cowboys and help customers choose reliable tradespeople, according to the Electrical Contractors Association.

The new guide, titled “10 Ways to Find Trusted Tradespeople”, is created by consumer watchdog Which? and has come up with ten ways to find builders, electricians, plumbers and tradespeople that you can trust and won’t rip you off.

The guide is a response to the recent news this month about a gang of cowboy builders who allegedly scammed more than 50 UK homeowners out of £1 million, by collecting most of the cash up front and then leaving, before any work was carried out.

The guide warns homeowners to avoid contractors who ask for cash up front before they start the work and encourages homeowners to ask lots of questions before any work is started.

Cowboy contractors are being clamped down on at the moment by numerous schemes. As well as TV shows like Cowboy Builders and Rogue Traders which expose cowboy tradesmen and websites like Trust A Trader and MyBuilder to only advertise proper contractors, the official bodies of each trade are getting involved.

Last week, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors introduced a Competent Person Scheme, to improve the quality of roofing contractors and ensure that they are all up to scratch.

Obviously cowboy traders need to be stopped and hopefully this guide can help to do that. But as long as homeowners are using trusted tradesmen found on certified websites that won’t rip them off, that’s half the battle.

What is going on with the state of the Delhi Games?

The Commonwealth Games are set to start next week in India, but the last week has seen controversy over the state of the Athletes Village, which has been described as “inhabitable”.

Delhi were given a £4 billion budget to stage this year’s Games, but the state of the accommodation is said to leave a lot to be desired. The facilities are rumoured to be dirty, unsafe and look worse than the city’s notorious slums. Construction work that should have been completed months ago, such as a collapsed bridge linking one of the main stadiums, only serve to reinforce that Delhi have got it very wrong.

India hoped that staging the Commonwealth Games would showcase the countries economic growth as one of the fastest-expanding countries on the planet. Instead, it has exposed India’s flaws, with horror stories of shoddy construction, rooms spattered with spit and human excretement, uncleared debris, filthy bedsheets and a snake was even found in the £150 million athletes complex. No wonder it has been dubbed as the “Shame Games”.

Organisers are now working around the clock to get the Games ready and the construction work up to scratch, but this is something that should have been done long before now. The Delhi Games do serve as a warning to the likes of London for the 2012 Olympics and Glasgow as host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games: make sure the construction work is up to standard or you will become a laughing stock.

It looks like London will not fall into the same trap as Delhi, as work on numerous projects, including the Olympic Stadium, basketball and water polo arenas, as well as the Olympic Village, currently going ahead. What do you think about the whole Delhi Games debacle?

Two developers to fight for keys to £1 billion regeneration scheme in Gateshead

Two housing developers are set to fight it out over a £1 billion contract to build thousands of homes in Gateshead over the next 20 years, which could potentially create thousands of trades jobs.

According to Construction News, Gateshead Council are deciding between Evolution Gateshead (which is made up of Home Housing and Galliford Try) and Compendium Group, which consists of Lovell Homes and Riverside Housing.

An estimated 2,500 homes will be built across 19 sites in Gateshead and the new homes will be built over a 15-20 year period. All of these homes will be some of the most energy efficient in the UK and a quarter of these homes will be affordable housing.

Thousands of trades jobs will be created in the North East when this work goes ahead. As well as the thousands of new homes, there are other major regeneration schemes going on in the area, such as the redevelopment of the town centre and a £300 million Baltic Business Quarter. The other good thing about this scheme is that it will continue to create trades jobs over a long period time, as the work could potentially go on until 2025.

The company chosen for this project will be announced in February 2011, with the work expected to begin sometime next year and will make Gateshead one of the biggest regeneration areas in the UK. Do you live in or around Gateshead – what do you think of these plans?

Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich to spend £20 million on his own personal nightclub

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is rumoured to be building a secret £20 nightclub, situated under Chelsea FC’s stadium, Building have reported.

The Russian billionaire is set to build a 500-capacity music venue under the east stand of Stamford Bridge. The work is set to be finished between November and December and is being built by construction company Cumberland.

It has not been specified how many jobs were created as a result of this construction work, but don’t expect to be setting foot inside Abramovich’s nightclub, unless you have deep pockets or are friends with the Russian oligarch. The venue expected to be used just for Abramovich’s VIP friends, private parties and a place to entertain guests and will not be open to the public.

Roman is rumoured to be worth an estimated £11.2 billion so spending £20 million on his own personal nightclub is nothing to him. Abramovich has spent money on extravagant things before, notably purchasing a £288 million yacht last year and spending £140 million to buy Chelsea in 2003. In the last seven years, Abramovich has spent hundreds of millions of pounds turning Chelsea into one of the biggest football clubs in the world and the club have won three Premier League titles during his reign as owner.