Housebuilder Prowting accidentally released news of the departures of its chief executive and finance director (see news) 13 hours early, at 5.46pm last Wednesday – just as most brokers were hitting the wine bars. This is considered bad form in the Square Mile, although the company vehemently denies attempting to bury the news, and describes the incident as a "cock-up".
That may turn out to be an unwise choice of phrase. Desperate for the latest news, I tried logging on to www.prowting.com. Unfortunately, this turns out to link through to a selection of Korean sex sites, with no information about the latest range of three-bedroom semis. The correct address for respectable netsurfers is www.prowtingplc.com. I'm sure none of Building's readers will bother to check the former.
Close, but no cigar
My hearty congratulations go to fellow Building columnist Sir Michael Latham on his appointment last week to succeed Hugh Try as CITB chairman. But I gather my hunch that Dermot Gleeson was in the running (30 November, page 29), wasn't too wide of the mark.
Gleeson and Latham were apparently on a shortlist of four interviewed for the post by education minister John Healey, after 60 hopefuls responded to the advertisement. Indeed, Gleeson was initially the favourite. As for Try, he is likely to be rewarded for his efforts with a knighthood in the not-too-distant future.
Help may be at hand for the Major Contractors Group's campaign to create a fully trained workforce. The body only just failed to reach its target of 40% of workers with training cards by the end of last year – a tantalising 37.7%. However, this may be partly because of steel erectors. The MCG recently discovered that they are unable to gain accreditation as there are no cards for them. Not surprisingly, hasty talks are under way to ensure that this embarrassing anomaly is resolved.
The DTI hits the pub
Now that construction minister Brian Wilson appears ready to roll out the anti-cowboy quality mark across the country, how will he promote the scheme to the public?
When Building investigated the subject a couple of years ago, advertising chiefs estimated that it would cost about £8m to mount the kind of campaign necessary to persuade millions of homeowners to trust the quality mark.
But civil servants seem to have come up with a slighter cheaper ruse than relying on the big red glasses brigade: beermats. Thousands of little cardboard discs featuring the quality mark logo will be distributed in every Rat and Stockbroker and Nag's Head across the country.
So when the fat geezer at the bar tells you he'll sort out your leaky roof for a grand – "cash up front" – you'll only need to stare through the bottom of your glass to know what to do.
The RICS takes on God
According to current Church of England regulations, architects are closer to God than surveyors. And, as you might imagine, this sacred pecking order rankles with surveyors.
In 1990, the Church of England decreed that only registered architects could perform as lead building consultants on cathedrals. Last week, an indignant RICS wrote to the General Synod to complain. It argued that chartered building surveyors performed exactly the same role for other buildings of worship, including many churches that are considerably older and sometimes larger than cathedrals.
One hopes that the RICS doesn't favour an entirely ecumenical approach in these matters. Otherwise, the main body of its membership – estate agents – could end up in charge.
It appears that domestic strife has broken out at Romney House, where mayor Ken Livingstone cohabits with the feisty members of the Greater London Assembly. After an acrimonious planning meeting last week, where GLA member Tony Arbour accused Ken of breaking election promises of open government, the authority issued a press release entitled "Mayor contradicts key manifesto pledge". Hours later, though, a rival faction in the press office hit back with a response entitled "Assembly's claims on planning refuted".
Visitors to Romney House are advised to keep their hands in view and wear a flak jacket.
Shock, horror. It's not only the 2004 deadline for Olympic facilities that the Greeks are struggling to hit. Apparently the new glass-walled home for the Elgin Marbles, also planned for 2004, "does not have a cat in hell's chance" of completion by that date, according to one source close to the project. As a result, the Greek government's campaign to bring back the sculptures to their homeland has been put on the back burner.
Ramsden, we have a problem
Arup staff had red faces again last Wednesday night – but this time caused by the alcohol they consumed in a riverside pub after the successful testing of the Millennium Bridge.
Catherine Ramsden, the bridge's project architect at Foster & Partners, was also visibly relieved. She had stood on the bridge on the day of the infamous wobble along with her father, a rocket scientist who works for NASA. She admitted to him that she was worried that the structure would shake itself to bits.
"Don't worry," he reassured her. "It's not like a rocket blowing up on the launch pad."
"Oh yes it is!" gasped the distraught designer.