This week, we admire the subtle manoeuvrings of strategic masters such as Richard Bowker, Keith Mills, Jon Rouse, Liz Bridge and, of course, Paul Gascoigne

A Bridge too far?

The Inland Revenue may insist that construction will be ready for the revamped CIS scheme by next April, but Liz Bridge has £25 that says they’re wrong. The Construction Confederation tax director is so sure that the plan to put the scheme online won’t work that she is offering to pay £25 from her own pocket to the first firm that manages to install the software and successfully shake hands with the Revenue. Bridge believes her money is safe, but is she in for a surprise? Email my colleague Sarah at if you think you have a claim on Liz’s lolly.

Richard ‘Machiavelli’ Bowker

The gossip in the drinking establishments I frequent is that Richard Bowker is eyeing the role of chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority. Bowker was the surprise appointment to take over Partnerships for Schools, having previously enjoyed the more high-profile job of boss at the Strategic Rail Authority. Rumour has it that he’s taken on the schools job to get his name back in the public domain ahead of the Olympic interviews …

Fantasies for footballers

More footballers are heading to Dubai – much like geese flapping their way south for the winter. Glasgow Rangers captain Barry Ferguson has expanded his property portfolio by snapping up a £2m mansion in the subdued and tasteful environs of Dubailand, the region’s answer to Disneyland. It follows the lead of Paul Gascoigne, who bought two homes there last month. Personally, I think Gazza was attracted by our recent coverage of the dinosaur park at Restless Planet, avid reader of Building that he is.

Inflated claims

An excitable press release wings our way from contractors Multibuild. It is on the subject of 1 Portland Street, the recently completed office building in Manchester. To jazz up the launch, the firm carried out the first ever hot air balloon launch from Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of the city. Multibuild, we learn, launched three balloons piloted by the Big Air Company. According to the press release: “Never before has a balloon been allowed to take off right from the busy city centre, let alone three.” With that much hot air in the PR department, the firm can probably fuel a few more …

Aye, aye captain

I hear Keith Mills, chief executive of London’s successful Olympic bid, is contemplating heading a British challenge for the America’s Cup. An avid sailor with his own racing yacht, Mills has the financial clout and the contacts to pull together the vast sums required to enter the next competition, which begins with the Louis Vuitton challenge in Valencia 2007. In the meantime, Keith, why not cuddle up to the construction industry by pitching in for next week’s Little Britain Challenge?

Tour de Grande-Bretagne

Many congrats to the staff of consultant Hunter and Partners, who’ve pulled off the Ian Botham trick of journeying from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Instead of walking though, associate directors Tim Ashton, Alan Boswell, James Wallace and Kevin Woolley, decided to bike it from the UK’s southernmost tip, arriving at the top of Scotland 15 days later. All of which has meant the firm has raised more than half its £50,000 target for children’s hospices. And it only took them 82 hours, 14 minutes and 45 seconds …

We think this new job will keep Mr Higgins with us
We think this new job will keep Mr Higgins with us

Things for David to do

More rumours about the Olympic Delivery Authority job. Our old friend David Higgins has apparently been the subject of a campaign to stop him leaving English Partnerships to head the body. Not one, not two, but three public bodies have been holding meetings to devise jobs for him to do to prevent his departure. The ODPM and the Housing Corporation, as well as EP itself, have been wracking their brains to work out what to get the multitalented Higgins to do. If you have any bright ideas, email Hansom – if only to help someone facing the combined might of Jon Rouse, Margaret Ford and John Prescott.