Cocktails and canapes in a tent, a fish and chip supper and a spot on prime-time TV. Sounds like a lifestyle for a B-list celeb, not a day in the life of a contractor

Please make a U-turn when possible

It may have won the Stirling prize but are pupils getting lost in the Zaha Hadid-designed Evelyn Grace Academy? Hansom has noted with interest the school’s appointment of consultant Intelligent Space, whose website says it is helping “with a series of design interventions to improve their built environment”. Although this work includes working on the school’s signage - and there are reports of people having trouble locating lavatories - a spokeswoman for the school insists it is 100% happy with the building and always intended to commission such work. Hope it’s not too late for the people searching for a loo.

Long live the conference

Where better to mark the Libyan dictator’s grisly death than at a business conference? Yes, you read right. Quickest off the mark to send a Gaddafi-related press release last Thursday - half an hour before the Guardian’s live blog even confirmed that he was dead - were the PRs behind next month’s “Libya - The Future” business conference in London. “Gaddafi dead”, rejoiced the subject line … before explaining how you can book a place at the conference. Not the first thing on many people’s minds on hearing the news, it has to be said.

Dream big

Intrepid industry types who ventured out last week to a launch event on an 11-hectare brownfield site in east London’s Stratford were greeted by a surprising sight. Among deserted building sites and half-complete apartment blocks stood a marquee filled with ornamental trees, ambient lighting and tasty canapes. The event marked the unveiling of Ikea’s property arm’s plans for a vast new neighbourhood south of the Olympic park. Among the marquee’s fans was executive director for regeneration, planning and property at Newham council,
Clive Dutton, who gushed: “We’re not easily impressed in Newham. But if the development is half as good as this tent we’ll be impressed.” Maybe set your sights a little higher, Clive?

Extra-curricular activities

What do the JCT - the body behind one of the most popular forms of construction contract - and unmissable TV show Educating Essex have in common? More than you’d think. Michael Hardware, the man behind publicity for the contracts expert, also sits on the board of Passmores School in Harlow, which is currently finding fame in the Channel 4 documentary. Michael has been apparently been pulling strings behind the scenes to get the warts-and-all reality TV show on the telly.

Stiff upper lip

As well as PFI, another focus of ire at the Movers & Shakers property event in London last week was the dreaded OJEU process. Boss of developer Helical Bar, Mike Slade, got a good cheer from the room when he labelled the system “horrendous” and claimed that “57% of OJEU applications come from Britain” - presumably because of our love of pen-pushing. “God bless us but we do kick ourselves in the balls regularly,” he lamented.

PFI is yesterday’s news(paper)

Just when you thought the government might be warming to the idea of reviving PFI, the procurement method gets another kicking - this time from a civil servant. Speaking at the Movers & Shakers property event at the Dorchester hotel last week, the chief operating officer of the Government Property Unit, Neil Warsop, recalled that a fish ‘n’ chip supper for a former Labour chancellor had cost “several hundred” pounds because it was somehow ordered through a PFI contract. Why anyone would be daft enough to pay for a takeaway in such a manner went unanswered, of course …


Source: Phil Disley