While the Chancellor is dividing his time between talking down AV and shrugging off disappointing Q1figures for the UK economy, the country’s construction industry has been quietly getting on with business.
Building and civil engineering routinely picks up as we leave the winter weather behind, but this spring there is the added impetus of firms finally coming out of the recession as demand and confidence return. The markets have seen share prices for the sector rising, with Bovis Homes restoring its dividend to shareholders and the top real estate consultancy, Colliers International, reporting that UK property is now being seen as a ‘safe haven’ for foreign investment due to instability elsewhere across the world.
The South-east in particular is coming out of the doldrums with major commercial projects, that had been moth-balled, getting under way all across the capital, and the preparations for the London 2012 Olympics moving into top gear.
The Olympic Delivery Committee has actually beaten its target for employing local residents, with 25 rather than 15 per cent having been recruited within the five ‘host’ boroughs; and some 1400 previously unemployed people having been helped back into work.
ODA chief executive Dennis Hone said: “The Olympic Park and Village is being delivered on track and within budget by a dedicated and hard working team in London supported by thousands more people working for sub-contractors and suppliers up and down the country.
“The site and supplier workforce have done us proud, completing construction on the Olympic Stadium and Velodrome, and being on track to finish all the main venues and infrastructure this summer ready for Test Events ahead of the Games.
“Alongside the immediate economic legacy of providing work, contracts and a showcase for the work of UK plc, the ‘big build’ has supported long-term career development for people living close to the Olympic Park, previously unemployed people and apprentices.”
With the ‘finishing line’ in sight, the sheer scale of the Olympic delivery challenge has seen the workforce climb to 12,600 – shadowed by some eye-watering figures for capital expenditure. Meanwhile as a specialist in finishing ourselves, at Plastic Surgeon we have just had our best ever month and are recruiting again.
March saw Plastic Surgeon book more work than even at the height of the last boom, and we have done that despite having kept our charges down, and with some 25 fewer finishers out on the road. Both achievements bear testimony to the improved management systems and leaner working practices that have been put in place, but operatives can only be expected to work so many hours, so fresh talent is definitely required.
Amongst the new quintet we have a lady from Scotland who used to teach violin, while another of her countrymen joining the Scottish region was once an infantryman in the Scots Guards, as well as having experience of coach-building. Another amongst the intake was a previous supervisor for a national company, who will be strengthening the North-West region.
All of them will be undergoing Plastic Surgeon’s initial training course to give them the necessary skills in repairing and colour matching every type of building component from sinks, baths, basins, shower trays, worksurfaces and other interior fittings, through to doors, windows, cladding panels, stonework and other types of masonry, mainly found on the outside of the envelope.
If the ODA finds its physical resources become at all stretched over the coming months, we at Plastic Surgeon will be only too happy to step in and help ensure everything in or around the stadia and Olympic Village are in perfect condition for when the Games begin.