This week, where are all the mums that need work? And are timber-frame flats about to become similarly scarce? Meanwhile, it’s dictionaries at dawn for the lawyers

Mum’s the word

Regarding your article “Bringing up baby”, (15 July, page 31), it is difficult for employers too. My husband runs a small practice in the sticks, where he needs an architectural assistant - he is looking for a part-time, part-qualified returner to work, or someone studying for Part 2 part-time. He’s offering flexible hours, and reasonable (although not top-rate) money, but is having difficulty in finding anyone to suit (that is, not the over-qualified, not year outs, not recent graduates - all of whom are flooding his inbox). So where are all these desperate mums?

Della Pearlman, via

Quite a difference

When John Redmond, in his column of 22 July (page 53) declares that John Riches’ interpretation of section 108A (8 July, page 46) is “quite wrong”, what precisely does he mean? Does he mean that John Riches is “slightly wrong” or “absolutely wrong”?

Seems to me that the ambiguity of this statement is comparable to the underlying problem with section 108A, which turns on the meaning of the word “provision” in the particular context in which it is used. John Redmond’s interpretation of section 108A assumes a crucial distinction between the meaning of that word and the word “clause” so that the former can never mean the latter. The problem with John Redmond’s analysis is that, if anything, the indications in the legislation contradict that position and most dictionary definitions treat the words as interchangeable in which case, gulp, surely John Redmond’s argument is “quite wrong”?

Dominic Helps, Corbett & Co

Tricky timber

I read with interest the story “Insurers call for review of fire regulations” (15 July, page 10). Timber-framed construction, at least of flats in urban areas, may be short lived.
Contractors are encountering difficulty in proving compliance on matters of finer detail with the Health and Safety Executive. This includes, for example, where the manufacturers’ safety certificate for thermal transmittance calculations have otherwise been satisfied. The consequence is that on sites developed under design-and-build agreements it is easier for the contractor to revert to masonry construction. In one case, a contractor changed horses even after the foundations and ground beams (based on timber frame loads) had been constructed. The costs of programme delay and redesign all had to be swallowed.

I suspect this is a sign of things to come and has affected our advice to clients regarding potential cost and risk at the early stages of procurement.

Stuart Hill, associate at Calfordseaden

Shedding light on the list

I write regarding your story “Workers prepare legal action over blacklisting scandal” (15 July, page 13). As a blacklisted worker myself, I would like to express my thanks for all the hard work you have carried out and hope it inspires other organisations to follow you and gain equal success. May you continue in your struggle to make the construction industry a safer place to work.

Phil McNeilis, via