Awkward questions are raised at a government press conference, Barratt’s staff decide against keeping a low profile and Murray Coleman wears pink lycra

Eloquent silence

The government’s launch of its Sustainable Construction Strategy got a decidedly cool reception from the industry last week. After construction minister Baroness Vadera’s upbeat introduction, John Spanswick, Bovis Lend Lease’s chairman, questioned whether the strategy would really improve public sector procurement. Then Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, asked what the difference was between this strategy and Egan’s report 10 years ago.

Klein’s comment got a robust rebuff from Sir Stuart Lipton, the event’s chair, who then bizarrely, asked the audience if they thought the strategy was a good thing. Lipton got through the excruciating silence that greeted this by telling the audience enthusiastically he thought the report was “jolly good”.

The investigation

Word reaches me of a dramatic incident on a site in a wealthy London borough that had been fitted with an outside loo for the builders’ convenience. One of the well-heeled residents overlooking it phoned up the site’s owner to complain that she’d seen a builder coming out of the loo “adjusting his dress”. The landlord phoned up the senior property partner of the firm running the job, who phoned up the senior construction partner, who phoned up the partner in charge of the site, who phoned up a clerk of works to demand that he launch an immediate investigation. Half an hour later the clerk of works called his boss back and assured him that the complainant must have been mistaken – none of the builders was wearing a dress.

Work and some play …

Tim Wade, boss of Hyder Consulting, is planning his next move carefully. The group, which has been expanding in the Middle East and south Asia, is weighing up where it should go in Europe. It is already established in Germany and parts east, but when asked if he planned to go into Spain, he replied “only on holiday”.

A bit of a blow

I hear that Hamiltons’ design for the Strata Tower, a 43-storey residential behemoth in Elephant & Castle, has encountered some unexpected difficulties. It seems the building’s wind turbines are going to spin at such velocity that the racket would be unbearable. If there are any acoustics wizards out there who can factor supersonic waves into its calculations, you know who to contact …

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry

The inaugural Headline Property Awards last week were notable not just for Building’s nomination for best magazine but also for its sponsor, one Barratt Developments, which I’m told had encountered a spot of bother during the week. Clearly not ones to let the small matter of a share price meltdown interfere with a good night out, Barratt’s staff and directors joined in all the evening’s fun, even laughing at jokes about their company’s future. Not quite so amused was Dan Bridgett, Barratt’s PR, who, after representing Multiplex during the construction of Wembley, is now putting out a whole new set of fires. Cheer up, Dan – we hear Max Mosley needs a new PR …