This week, insights into the industry’s relationship with tea, as rustled up by housing ministers and supped by site monitors, but rejected by stereotype-defying labourers, who prefer dancing
He wants to live like common people
Bless David Higgins. The generous spirit of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s chief executive was revealed to all last week, when the body’s latest set of accounts showed he had agreed to defer half of his “performance-related pay” to a later date. As a result, Higgins had to make do with a package of just £537,000 – including salary and benefits – for the last year. When it came to expenses, I was gratified to see the 2012 team billing for the really important stuff, not least a subscription to Building from director of construction Howard Shiplee. Who said the public sector had no perks?
The cake test
Applicants to become a site monitor for the Considerate Constructors Scheme would do well to put down their books of psychometric test examples and instead improve the quality of their light banter over battenburg cake. One of the questions that interviewers have to answer on their assessment sheets is: “Would I bring this person home to tea?” Mike Mitchell, one of the most senior monitors who has carried out thousands of site visits, says the box is an important one to tick: “Site managers have the ability to get on with all sorts. We need the people we use to mirror that ability before we feel happy unleashing them on a building site.”
A mysterious absence
Cyril Sweett’s chairman Francis Ives was conspicuously absent from his firm’s summer bash last week. Could it be that his much-talked-about stepping down is imminent? On the night, chief executive Dean Webster certainly wasn’t admitting to warming up for slipping into Ives’ slip-ons. Perhaps the perma-tanned Ives was merely hard at work scoping out the acquisition targets Webster recently alluded to – in Australia and Asia …
Gerald Ronson, property developer extraordinaire, former convict and now successful author, has, Hansom hears, turned down the opportunity to present a TV programme on how to be a property developer. Ronson, the man behind the Heron Tower, among many other schemes, is believed to have refused the offer in order to concentrate on his business ventures. Besides, his book (a rip-roaring read by all accounts) seems to be doing pretty well, and it’s not as if the former member of the Guinness Four needs to raise his profile at all …
Minister for tea
Morale among politicians is not very high at the moment, for reasons known to all, but at least some can see the funny side of things. When a colleague went to interview housing minister John Healey last week, the minister was kind enough to run to the coffee shop to buy refreshments. However, a passing colleague in the corridors of power couldn’t help but comment: “Turned tea-boy now have you, John?” “There’s got to be some use for ministers,” he deadpanned back. For the record, it should be noted that Healey told Building he was very busy preparing for a raft of significant policy announcements …
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