While Tory campaign managers, a finance director and a London mayor show up long past the hour appointed, a certain Nick Raynsford will just be glad to be invited back

All in the planning

Mystery surrounds the Tories’ last-minute decision to cancel the launch of their planning green paper this week. And not for the first time – it was originally supposed to come out before Christmas. Sources maintain the delays were caused by fine tuning the launch’s ideal timing on the election “news grid”. But speculation is rife that expenses scandals and worries over a dwindling poll lead may have spooked party managers. One has to ask: if the Tories can’t even plan the launch of the plan, what does that say about the plan itself?

Let’s not be negative

When Vinci snapped up Taylor Woodrow for £74m in September 2008, the word on the street was they’d got themselves a bargain. Seller Taylor Wimpey said the deal was broadly “cash neutral”, given that roughly £74m was sitting on Taywood’s balance sheet – but it is believed the deal was actually cash negative. One person left scratching their head, I gather, is Taylor Wimpey finance director Chris Rickard, who joined the firm after the deal. Although Taylor Wimpey had no finance director when the contract was signed, I understand Rickard was puzzled as to how it could have sold the company and still made a loss, albeit small. I’m with you there, Chris; you clearly should have got there sooner.

Among friends

Guests attending one of Boris Johnson’s receptions at City Hall last week were left waiting for their host long after wine had been poured and cheese served. A quiet word with his press officer revealed the cause of the hold up: he was putting the finishing touches to his speech as, ever the perfectionist, he wanted it just right. But he was safe from booing. Given that the guest list was entirely made up of hacks – the event was for the British Society of Magazine Editors – none felt they had had the right to complain about playing fast and loose with a deadline.

Decent standards?

Hopes were high last Monday that the select committee hearing on the Decent Homes standard was to be a fine example of justice in action. But the chaps asking questions for the Public Accounts Committee were hardly the most impartial judges. First up, left-wing Labour MP Austin Mitchell, who has single-handedly run the campaign against the way the programme has been implemented for the past 10 years. Next, Keith Hill, the housing minister who ran the very scheme being scrutinised. And finally, David Curry, the last Tory housing minister. Why parliament has such a bad name at the moment, I have no idea …

The party line

If Labour are shown the door at the next election, it will have nothing to do with the lack of endeavour shown by former construction minister Nick Raynsford. Ever the opportunist, Raynsford was quick to defend his party’s honour last week at a meeting of the Westminster Education Forum. After Pascale Sheurer of architect Surface to Air voiced concern about the uncertainty surrounding education projects, chair Raynsford jumped in with the comment: “If you want continuity you know which way to vote.”

Workers on a hot green roof

The ingenuity of manufacturers never ceases to amaze. I hear photovoltaics are being used in single-ply roofing membranes, a cunning arrangement that will enable industrial sheds to double up as power stations. There is a teething problem, though. A rooftop spy recently saw sparks fly when installers rolled out the product on a 3,000m2 shed. The issue? The roof had started to generate electricity as soon as the sun’s rays hit the membrane. For these workers, protecting yourself on a hot day obviously isn’t just about applying suncream.