It’s all falling apart in the corridors of power

Hansom new 2008

Bite back better

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was asked to give his views on the government’s Integrated Rail Plan to a group of transport select committee MPs recently. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t hugely impressed given what the North had got differed from what it had been promised. This didn’t cut it with one member of the select committee who suggested Burnham should be grateful that the region was given anything at all. Conservative MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney asked: “Do you understand the meaning of the phrase ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’?” Burnham retorted: “You are kind of saying we should just get what we’re given … how about get what we were promised? Because it’s actually your government that promised all of this.” Touché.

Get shirty

A chat with Keltbray chief executive Darren James and, given he is Welsh, talk turned to rugby. He has on one of the walls of his Swansea home a framed rugby shirt as a reminder to never play the game again. He tells my scribe it was from a sevens tournament a few years ago. “There was a lot of huffing and puffing from me,” he laments. Still, the shirt was signed by Welsh rugby greats Gareth Edwards and Barry John so some good came out of his final game of discomfort.

Housebuilders, developers and now product manufacturers have all felt Michael Gove’s wrath as he attempts to get private firms to cover the cost of the UK’s £4bn cladding remediation bill. But even smaller firms seem to have fallen from favour

Where’s Gove?

Michael Gove has certainly made his mark as housing secretary since he took over the department last year. Big housebuilders, developers and now product manufacturers have all felt his wrath as the former Building columnist attempts to get private firms to cover the cost of the UK’s £4bn cladding remediation bill. But even smaller firms seem to have fallen from favour. Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing at the House Builders Association, which represents SME housebuilders, told one of my hacks that it has been “tougher to have a conversation with ministers” since Gove took over. Which seems odd given the department has said it wants SMEs to play a key role in reaching its 300,000 homes a year target.

Parking problem

Chase New Homes got the green light last month for a job next door to Cockfosters tube station in north London. So far so normal. It will turn a disused office into more than 200 apartments. Again, so far so normal. But it got the go-ahead after appealing the original decision by Enfield council, whose list of reasons for refusal included the scheme having four car parking spaces too many. “Quite astonishing,” was the developer’s restrained reaction.

On the big screen

Among the many facts about the California stadium, designed by HKS, which hosted the Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and the LA Rams last Sunday, one caught my eye. It includes a videoboard bigger than the field – that’s 120 yards long, to you and me. Impressive. But, as the saying goes, can it do it at Stoke City away on a wet Tuesday night?

Party politics

With near-daily allegations of parties during lockdown at Number 10, the government has had a lot on its plate in recent months. Minor issues – such as the Construction Leadership Council’s warning in November that changes to product certification rules could stop the construction of 150,000 homes – have been put on the back burner. It took three months for business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to respond to the CLC via email, with the minister only arranging a meeting to discuss the matter when one of my hacks queried why nothing was being done. It turns out that Kwarteng’s email was sent just 40 minutes after my hack sent his. Possibly a coincidence, or could it be an example of government in media management mode yet again?

A moving occasion

Banksy Port Talbot

Source: Daniel Swallow

More than three years after it appeared in December 2018, Season’s Greetings, Wales’ first and only Banksy, was trucked out of Port Talbot last week on its way to an Essex art dealer. It was removed by Egg, the firm of former Willmott Dixon boss John Frankiewicz. “It’s a fragile thing,” he said of the artwork which appeared one night painted onto a garage. “We don’t want it in bits, do we?” Especially when no one could be found to insure the removal operation.

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