Crossrail builders face two mile trek to the toilet

Crossrail.svgCrossrail workers have slammed site welfare conditions after having to walk two miles to use a toilet.

One worker said: “It’s an absolute joke down there – how can you run a major project like this making people walk for two miles to use the loo?

“We haven’t had a mobile toilet in the tunnel down here for weeks now.

“We have to walk all the way to Tottenham Court Road which is two miles away.”

Workers are also unhappy about a lack of canteens and a site access system described as “chaotic”.

Another source said: “There’s only one turnstile to get on site in some places so the queues are chaotic.

“You have to leave early to try and beat the rush and lose out pay wise.”

Construction union UCATT is planning a demonstration at the Fisher Street site tomorrow while Unite leaders are set for a showdown meeting next month with Crossrail chiefs and contractors over bonus pay demands by electricians.

Contractors are understood to have set up a series of working groups to address the issues before the situation escalates.

But rank and file sparks are known to be organising on the job and are planning to produce their own site newspaper.

Tunnel Vision will be widely circulated among the workforce and detail ongoing disputes and demands.

from The UK Construction Blog


Cityscape scheme sets young trainee on right career path

A £4m construction project currently being undertaken by the Highways Division of North Midland Construction plc (NM Group) to enhance public spaces in Sheffield city centre, has provided one young person with paid work hez2experience that should hopefully help him to kick start his career.

The NM Group is installing a new footpath and cycleway scheme designed to improve safety and rejuvenate main routes to the University of Sheffield Campus. The company needed additional members of staff to work on the project and turned to Skills Made Easy for help with its search.  Skills Made Easy is a unique government backed programme designed to help businesses overcome skills shortages in the Sheffield City region and also to help young people develop their skills by connecting them with businesses operating in the area.

19 year old Hezakiah (Hez) Williams from Parsons Cross had completed a BTEC qualification in construction but found himself unable to break into the industry he loved.  He contacted Skills Made Easy and they arranged a two week work trial for him with the NM Group.

During the trial, when he was overseen by qualified and experienced personnel, Hez had the opportunity to work on the renewal of the streetscape around the University buildings. He performed well and with commitment, successfully passing his trial.

He is still in the employment of the NM Group and has since been involved in numerous construction activities to assist in the project’s progress including groundworks, drainage, paving preparation and kerbing.  Further arrangements are underway to provide Hez with additional skills training through NM Academy – the company’s learning and development programme

Chris Davis, N M Group’s construction site manager on the project said:

“We are really pleased with the progress that Hez has made in the short time he has been working for us. He has shown a real aptitude for learning a variety of construction principles in a live project environment and a keen enthusiasm for developing new skills. I am confident that Hez will become a valuable asset to the team and this would not have been possible without Skills Made Easy.”

Laura Hayfield, programme manager, Skills Made Easy said:

“Work trials give individuals like Hez, who have found it difficult to secure a career in their chosen sector, a chance to gain experience and illustrate to employers what they can bring to the business. Hez had wanted work in the construction industry but since leaving school he had struggled to secure a permanent role. He has impressed his new employers with his skills and genuine interest in the sector and his commitment has enabled him to continue to develop new skills with the NM Group.”

“For employers work trials help them ensure that the person they are recruiting fits in well with their existing workforce and has the aptitude to succeed.”

Skills Made Easy is a free of charge service which offers impartial, tailored advice to small and medium sized businesses based in the Sheffield City Region. The service helps employers to overcome skills shortages in the workforce which could be impacting on growth and to access Government grants to cover the cost of training. The service is delivered free of charge to all businesses based in the Sheffield City Region, employing fewer than 250 members of staff. For more information, visit or telephone 0114 229 6183.

from The UK Construction Blog

Queensferry bridge sets record as longest free-standing cantilever

Contractors building the £1.3bn Queensferry Crossing have set a new record by creating the the longest free-standing cantilever in the world at 644m.

Queensferry Crossing
The structure will become the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world

The bridge deck sections are edging closer and closer by the day as engineers come close to linking the deck sections at the north and south sides of the bridge.

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When the weight of a 750 tonnes bridge section is lifted the deck deflects by 4m giving the impression the two decks will not meet.

Once work is complete on the project in June 2017, the new Queensferry Crossing will stretch 2.7km in length and will include three single column towers and approach viaducts.

Galliford Try is part of the four-company consortium that includes Hochtief, Dragados, and American Bridge of Pittsburgh in the US  building the main motorway bridge over the Firth of Forth under a £790m contract.

The structure will become the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world and also by far the longest to feature cables which cross mid-span. This innovative design provides extra strength and stiffness, allowing the towers and the deck to be more slender and elegant.

from The UK Construction Blog

Considerate Constructors Scheme seeks new Board Directors

Newly appointed Scheme Executive Chairman Isabel Martinson to recruit new Board Directors to take Scheme to the ‘next level’

Isabel Martinson photographLondon, United Kingdom, 19 September 2016: The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) – the national Scheme to improve the image of the construction industry – is recruiting for new Board Directors.

Isabel Martinson, who was appointed as Executive Chairman of the Scheme in July 2016, is looking for senior representatives from within and outside of the construction industry to expand the CCS to move to the ‘next level’, to further enhance the construction industry’s image and reputation.

The CCS is an independent organisation formed in 1997. Since its formation, it has significantly altered the approach the construction industry takes to those affected by its activities, the construction workforce, and the impact construction has on the local environment.  It has achieved wide recognition and is highly regarded and respected by those aware of and involved in the Scheme.

Construction sites, companies and suppliers voluntarily register with the Scheme and agree to abide by the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice. The Code commits those registered with the Scheme to care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment, secure everyone’s safety and value their workforce.

The Scheme is looking for new Board members who are committed to the Scheme’s ethos, and in particular, those with expertise in the areas of marketing and communications, finance, commercial contracts and outsourcing.

CCS Ltd logo RGBConsiderate Constructors Scheme Executive Chairman Isabel Martinson commented: “The CCS provides a hugely important and influential role in helping to enhance the construction industry’s reputation to the public, those within the industry and the Government. I look forward to working with a team of newly appointed Board Directors to shape the future reputation of the construction industry through the Considerate Constructors Scheme.”

Terms of reference, person/skills specifications and the application procedure are available via the Scheme’s website here.

The application deadline is 1200 on Wednesday 5 October 2016.

from The UK Construction Blog

Minister confirms support of Prompt Payment Code and success in changing payment culture

Minister confirms support of Prompt Payment Code and success in changing payment culture

New measures to support the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) and drive a culture of better payment practice have been confirmed in a letter to PPC signatories from Margot James, Minister for Small Business and Philip King, Chief margot-james-medium philip-king-mediumExecutive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM).

The letter highlights the significant success of the Code to date, and in particular highlighting the challenges against Code signatories that it says have been ‘hugely successful in achieving fast settlement of invoices, creating dialogue between parties, improving contract terms, and providing constructive assistance welcomed by suppliers and signatories alike’.

The correspondence also confirms the future appointment of a Small Business Commissioner to provide help and advice to business, including on achieving prompt payment, and the Statutory Duty to Report for large businesses to report on payment practices that comes into force from 6 April, 2017. Further strengthening of the Code will follow the implementation of the Duty to Report measures.

The authors of the letter confirm that signatories should be paying within 30 days where possible and that this should increasingly be the norm. The Code Compliance Board will not be enforcing 30 day terms but states that paying invoices within 60 days will be a requirement unless there are exceptional circumstances that will be considered on a case by case basis. An example of ‘exceptional circumstances’ might be where a company is able to demonstrate that it applies different terms to the benefit of their smaller suppliers.

The Minister says that: “Prompt payment can make all the difference to small businesses, boosting their cashflow and allowing them to invest in growth for the future. Although we have seen some progress, there are still too many business owners across the country who have not been paid on time by their customers.

“We need a culture change to stamp this out and the Prompt Payment Code continues to play an important role in bringing this about, alongside a package of measures taken forward by government and industry. The businesses signed up to the Code commit to demonstrating the gold standard of payment practices and it’s great to see so many of Britain’s leading household names on the list.”

The Prompt Payment Code is administered by the CICM on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It currently has more than 1,800 signatories, with each signatory committing to best practice in the fair and equal treatment of suppliers, many of whom are smaller businesses.

Last year the Government announced a series of measures within the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act to further strengthen the Code.

from The UK Construction Blog

Ancient pictures capture site life at the end of Victorian era

A Scottish Water employee has rescued remarkable pictures giving a unique insight into daily life on a major Aberdeen sewer scheme more than 100 years ago.

Aberdeen old construction Victorian

The Girdleness Outfall Scheme was designed to improve sanitation in the growing city and employed an army of construction workers hand-digging tunnels and using steam engines to help deliver the major scheme.

The images date from 1900 and 1901, the last year of the Victorian age, when construction was in full swing and capture the scope of the impressive engineering project.

Bob Nicoll, of Scottish Water in Aberdeen, said: “I’ve had the pictures for the last 15 or 16 years.

“They were part of some old archive stuff due to be thrown out but I felt they needed to be rescued from that as they show an amazing part of the city’s industrial history.”


Construction involved blasting 40,000 tonnes of rock in order to create a trench for pipelines.


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from The UK Construction Blog

Property fund to restart trading as Brexit fears ease

A property investment fund suspended in the wake of the Brexit vote is set to resume trading.

British Pound

The Columbia Threadneedle UK Property Authorised Investment Fund was one of a number of funds suspended as the EU Referendum result spooked the market.

Trading will restart on September 26 as the company described initial market fears as “irrational”.

Don Jordison, Managing Director of Property, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said: “In the short period following the referendum we saw animal spirits drive unprecedented levels of redemptions from daily dealt open-ended property funds.

“Much of the earlier commentary now appears slightly irrational and more informed reflection has settled the market.

“Any effects of the Brexit vote on the overall UK economy – negative or otherwise – will take many months if not years to transpire and some time after that for the property market.

“In the current climate of low growth and low returns from other asset classes, and with the UK property market yielding 5%, it is our view that UK property offers a significant in-built risk premium for long-term investors.

“We are pleased t o open the Fund again and believe this is in the best interest of our customers. We will continue to closely monitor conditions to ensure the interests of our investors in the Fund are paramount at all times.”

The Threadneedle PAIF invests in physical UK commercial property such as warehouses, shopping centres, high street shops and offices around the UK.

from The UK Construction Blog