The Home Office invests in some lovely offices in the middle of nowhere that will be closed most of the time, a ‘sorry’ state of affairs at the ODA, and cloning seems to apply to Shepherds as well as sheep

The gold medal for apologising

Apparently headhunters are drawing up the shortlist for the role of chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) next week, and it seems that Network Rail chief John Armitt has emerged as a frontrunner for the job. Armitt certainly has an enviable track record in construction, and of major projects in particular, but it might be another aspect of his CV that has swung things in his favour. As one industry wag put it, referring to recent events at Network Rail: “He certainly now has a strong track record of being able to look humble when apologising.” Just the man for the Olympic job, then …

Nobody dives in

Despite the fact that there are rumblings that the ODA will struggle to find a contractor to build the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre, a senior Olympic source informs me that Laing O’Rourke is unlikely to be called in to save the day.

On the plus side, it looks likely that the industry will be queuing up to deliver the media centre and my mole tells me that if the developer-led approach does not attract bidders, the traditional design approach will be taken.

A new flock of Shepherds

Word reaches me that change may be afoot at family-owned contractor Shepherd Construction. After a spectacular falling-out among the leading family members a couple of years ago, all has been fairly quiet at the firm. But the emergence of a new generation of up to 40 Shepherd family members, all of whom have shares in the firm, may just prove to be a catalyst for change. But where are they all coming from?

Credit: Scott Garrett

Passport to nowhere

Listed property company Mapeley has been busy finding regional offices for the administration of the Passport Service’s new verification process. If you’ve somehow missed this exciting development, the big idea from the Home Office is that every time a person requires a new passport they will have to travel to their local office to be interviewed. However, there may be a flaw in the plan. Apparently some of the offices are in such remote areas that they will only open two days a week because of lack of demand, and in the winter they may close altogether. But you’ll be pleased to know they have all been fitted out at vast expense to the taxpayer.

Tidd’s progress

So Multiplex managing director Martin Tidd has finally landed a new job, albeit one he has given himself. Tidd along with Simon Cook, his former operations director at Multiplex, has formed a project management company called Primus Build. Apparently the firm has already been asked to help out on the

308m-tall Shard of Glass tower at London Bridge, which is being overseen by Sellar Property Group. What Mace, the construction manager tipped for the job, thinks about this cosy arrangement remains to be seen.

To Hull and back

Julian Daniel, head of Bovis Lend Lease’s southern division, may be a jet-setting executive but his one true love lies in Hull. Being based in Bovis’ Harrow office does not stand in the way of his passion for Championship team Hull City and he travels up to Yorkshire for every home game. Even when he was working in Australia, the habit proved hard to break. And when he was a day late to Mipim this year, he cited personal reasons to boss Murray Coleman, who knew all too well “it’s that bloody football team”.

If you thought the construction of the new Wembley stadium was a fiasco. I see that possibly the most technically perplexing construction project ever built is to be finally finished in the coming weeks. The project in question is the massive science lab in Teddington, West London known as the National Physical Laboratory. It was the project so disastrous that it was credited with bringing down renowned contractor Laing Construction which suffered such a demise that it resulted in Ray O'Rourke swooping on the firm for a knockdown price of £1 and it was also a project that gave M&E contractor NG Bailey a major headache. Bovis took over in 2005 and soon all the heartache will be over so now lets just hope the client is happy with it.