Nocturnal celebrations of a bacchanalian nature are a feature of this week’s hectic schedule - leaving more sober heads to advise on flood defences, though a junior minister puts a spanner in the works
Told where to stick it
After just under a year as a junior minister at the Treasury, Chloe Smith - famous for a car crash interview with Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman last June - has been handed a wide-ranging ministerial role at the Cabinet Office, which includes the technical brief of ensuring public sector clients adopt Building Information Modelling (BIM). You might expect Smith to be a little shaky on the detail of BIM, but she seemed reasonably well-versed on the subject at the launch of the BIM4SME forum last week. Alas, she did falter slightly when asked by a building services engineer how BIM would help her profession. After an answer that included an anecdote about how a BIM model could enlighten you on where you could or could not use a spanner, the building engineer fired back: “We’re mostly based in offices, we don’t use spanners.” Still, if you’ve survived a malling by Paxman, that’s got to be water off a duck’s back.
Last week the managers of Turner & Townsend had a rather boozy couple of evenings. The night before celebrating their triumph at the Building Awards, where they bagged consultant of the year, they were entertaining an array of journalists from across the trade press. The event was hosted at members club and media and PR haunt Soho House. Conversation included some choice golfing disasters and the sorry tale of Turner & Townsend’s man in Peru, who, on his very first day in the country, checked into hospital with altitude sickness. Thankfully he’s acclimatised now, I’m told.
A modest proposal
I know in the current economic climate it’s important firms find innovative ways to build new markets for their expertise but it seems Turner & Townsend director Anooj Oodit is taking a slightly less conventional approach. Speaking at T&T’s press evening, Oodit revealed that while visiting family in Mauritius, he felt moved to join a phone-in debate about how to improve flood defence infrastructure following flooding which killed 11 people last month. Most callers were blaming the government for the lack of flood defences around major population centres, but Oodit pointed out that perhaps if they wanted better defences then the tax haven would need to start raising taxes. While they were at it they could build a better rail infrastructure too, Oodit added. So far the Mauritian authorities haven’t been banging on his door for help on the island’s infrastructure.
Random celebrity endorsement time: developer Bullock called in Liverpool and England football captain Steven Gerrard to “kick off” construction of a £14.4m extra-care complex for the over 55s in Huyton in Merseyside. The connection is that Gerrard (pictured) is from the area. He told Bullock: “Huyton is where it all began for me and a lot of my family and friends live there so I am still there quite a bit. It’s great to see they are improving the area, and this will create many more jobs for people locally as well.” I hear talks about redeveloping Liverpool FC’s stadium are picking up, so perhaps the next construction site we see Gerrard opening will be Anfield.
So, congratulations to everyone in the construction industry who completed the London marathon last weekend, including our news editor Allister Hayman. Impressively, Allister finished in a time of 3:29:39 - a whole 21 seconds inside his target time. However, despite vowing not to be beaten by anyone in fancy dress, we have heard that Allister was overtaken towards the end by a runner dressed as the superhero Ironman, replete with a rather heavy looking red and gold helmet. Oh well. He did at least beat Mo Farah to the finish. And more importantly, he hit his fundraising target for learning disability charity Mencap. Thanks to everyone who helped him get there. A great effort.
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