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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Cranes disappearing from UK skyline as construction contracts further

Picture of tower cranes by Chris Stokes for Your Expert Witness storyCounting tower cranes has long been used as a rule of thumb by experts for assessing construction activity and the number of cranes on the UK's skyline has dropped to its lowest point in over two years. That is according to infrastructure experts at international law firm Pinsent Masons, who have described the situation as: "...symbolic of the sharp falls in new commercial construction, deep cuts in capital spending being made by the public sector, and the current lack of positive UK infrastructure policy."

Data obtained by the firm is the latest evidence of a slowdown in construction activity around the UK, following the completion of various projects related to the Olympics, and is likely to cause further concern around the future of infrastructure spending ahead of next month's Autumn Statement.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 17:53


Public construction projects get a helping hand

The Cabinet Office is to instigate a system to guide and monitor public sector projects that are trialling three new methods of procurement. Project will be assigned expert mentors to guide procurement staff, who will also be able to draw on a 30-page guide to the new approaches: cost-led procurement, two-stage open book tendering and lean procurement.

The programme is being co-ordinated by the Trial Project Support Group, which was set up in September and is chaired by Constructing Excellence chief executive Don Ward.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2012 17:37


Building company fined nearly £½m following roof fall death

Picture of Menai Centre for Your Expert Witness storyNorth Wales-based building contractor Watkin Jones and Son Ltd has been ordered to pay a total of £548,000 following the death of a roofing worker who fell through a roof while working on the construction of the Menai Centre in Bangor, Gwynedd.

Yorkshireman Thomas Whitmarsh was employed by a roofing contractor working for Watkin Jones and Son as a sub-contractor in May 2007. He fell nearly six metres through an unguarded opening in the roof to the floor below, sustaining serious head injuries.

After spending several months in hospital Mr Whitmarsh was making a gradual recovery; however, the brain injury he suffered exposed him to a much higher degree of infection. He contracted acute meningitis and died on 17 December 2009.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 17:26


MPs call for revolution in public sector building procurement

Picture of Olympic Stadium under construction for Expert Witness storyThe All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has called on the Government to implement what it has termed 'a procurement revolution' to deliver significantly better value for money across the public sector.

Among the proposals in its report A Better Deal for Public Building is a call to adopt the procurement processes employed by the Olympic Delivery Authority, which was hailed for its successful delivery of top-class projects, to budget and on time.

The report endorses the Government's aim of achieving 20% cost savings for public construction projects over the course of the current Parliament, as outlined in its Construction Strategy, but it says that, unless Government implements its proposals, there is a danger that the savings will be achieved at the expense of good quality design.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 September 2012 14:11


Figures show private housebuilding slightly up; public sector still in doldrums

Picture of new flats for Expert Witness storyFigures from the NHBC have revealed that private-sector housing registrations in the UK had their best month for over a year in July, with 8,105 registrations. However, that still leaves private-sector registrations down 10% for the rolling quarter May to July compared to the same period last year (21,574 and 23,996 respectively).

Across all sectors registrations were down 21% compared to the same three months last year (28,951 against 36,716), with public sector registrations continuing to decline: 42% down during the rolling quarter.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 August 2012 16:28