After the pain and strain of running its most acrimonious presidential elections for years, I hear that the RIBA has taken a more laissez-faire approach to the appointment of one of its committees. Recently, Peter Smith stepped down as chairman of its focus group on sustainability, and I'm told he has a very probable (well, definite) successor in Bill Gething, partner in Feilden Clegg Bradley. Gething has just become a RIBA councillor, so the only obstacles left to his taking the chair are getting nominated for the post and then approved by the RIBA council. So, just few minor details to fill in, then …
Becks wouldn't stand for it
A football-mad colleague of mine was busy drafting a series of sick notes in preparation for the England games when he was interrupted by a press release from air-conditioning maker Lennox. The puff claimed the company was "scoring with staff" by offering to close its factory in time for England's 12.30pm match with Argentina, and by opening the factory two hours late when England play Nigeria at 7.30am. Impressed by the company's pro-football attitude, my colleague was about to send them a copy of his CV when he spotted the small print that said employees would be contractually obliged to make up all the hours lost. Extra time indeed.
And talking of football …
Kevin Myers, the Health and Safety Executive's chief inspector for construction, was reminiscing this week over his glory days as a schoolboy in Forest Gate, east London. Apparently, he used to take to the pitch against players from West Ham when they played with pupils as part of a community scheme. However, Myers was renowned as a Cockney Norman Hunter – which persuaded some of the professionals to decline the challenge. In particular, West Ham striker Bryan "Pop" Robson, who apparently said: "I'm not letting you spoil my career, Myers!"
Get your hankies out
Time now to consider the forgotten victims of the culture change in the construction industry. The growth of non-adversarial contracting, mediation and alternative dispute resolution has left many lawyers desperately searching for ways to make ends meet. As this photograph shows, once-prosperous barristers and Building columnists are branching out into the restaurant trade, and even the largest of construction law firms have been left to depend on second incomes – in this case, from undertaking. So please, do what you can. It may be as big as multimillion-pound High Court case, or as little as a £10,000 arbitration, but do pick a fight with someone. It doesn't matter how trivial; it could make all the difference. Thank you.
Brands R Us
The head of planning supervision at Bovis Lend Lease, David Chapman, certainly captured the mood of the audience at a BRE safety conference last week, at which Sir John Egan was speaking. "Planning supervisors are like Marmite, you either love 'em or hate 'em." If Egan gets his way, they'll probably end their days as Kit-e-Kat.
Get with it, Daddio
A colleague of mine was intrigued with health and safety minister Alan Whitehead's diverse taste in reading matter. Arriving at DTLR Towers for a press briefing with the minister, my colleague was told to wait in a vestibule outside his office. In keeping with doctors' surgeries throughout the land, the waiting area contained a collection of pastel comfy chairs and a coffee table complete with obligatory magazines. My colleague was impressed to find a copy of Time Out on the table tucked beneath an edition of Parking News. How hip of the minister, my colleague thought. However, on closer inspection, it turned out to be for last October – which, on reflection, does diminish its practical value.
Mergers we'd like to see
The recent merger between Mott Macdonald and Franklin + Andrews has led to some disappointment among staff at rival QS Cyril Sweett. Some in the firm had cheekily suggested that a possible tie-up with F+A would have resulted in the new duo being named Sweett FA. Perhaps Sweett's recent client, the Football Association, would have been less than impressed with the epithet.