I hear that the Llewellyn family are feeling hard done-by after flogging their family contracting business to Rok for £16.25m. On a recent tour of the firm's offices, joint managing director Tim Llewellyn – who stands to reap about £3m from the sale – briefed the troops on what would happen next. When anxious employees asked about redundancies, Llewellyn played the sympathy card. He started by saying that yes, there would regrettably be job losses, then added that he, too, would lose his job. The staff were decidedly unimpressed by this sackcloth-and-ashes routine. Apparently there was a stunned silence before the hisses and boos erupted.
It appears that footballers are starting to get interested in the building trade. Sunderland battler Jason McAteer claimed that he would rather listen to a Bob the Builder CD than read the autobiography of Manchester United star Roy Keane. (Keane was obviously rattled by the insult: he elbowed McAteer in the face in Saturday's game). On top of this, Arsenal and England centreback Sol Campbell revealed to ITV's On the Ball presenter Gabby Logan that he likes reading books on architecture. Whatever next? David Beckham to project-manage Wembley stadium?
I give him six months …
The curse of Building has struck again. Labour arts minister Alan Howarth was reshuffled to the bottom of the deck after giving an interview to this magazine, and I hear the same fate has befallen Tory construction spokesman Robert Key, who was profiled in our 26 July issue. However, Crispin Blunt, Key's replacement, could do with the publicity of an interview: hardly anyone's heard of him and he's been on holiday since his appointment.
So, here are a few facts for your dossiers: he's 42, likes cricket, and has a masters in business from Cranfield University. He also spent six years in the Hussars, rising to the rank of captain. Through this column I shall keep you informed of the adventures of Captain Blunt MBA.
What's in a name?
The restructuring of quantity surveyor MDA, reported in Building last week, has left the firm with a rather strange acronym. The old parent firm, MDA Group, was put into administrative receivership a couple of weeks ago, and a holding company was established. But the deal was done in such a hurry that they didn't have time to think of a new name. As a result, the firm is presently known as LCZ. Sharp-witted readers will spot that MDA has simply replaced its initials with the three letters that precede them in the alphabet.
The RICS loses the plot
I have received a warning from the RICS that is so urgent that I reproduce it in full: "RICS is warning its members about new health concerns surrounding a strain of mould found in over 3 million UK homes. There are health risks and liability implications. Nobody is immune. Not even Julia Roberts!"
Two hours later, the RICS emailed through a small correction: "It is the campaigning environmentalist Erin Brockovich, not Julia Roberts [who played her in the movie of the same name], who has a mouldy house."
Surely, when dealing with toxic mould, it's important to tell reality from make-believe.
Physician, heal thyself
I hear that the Construction Industry Training Board is now suffering a skills shortage of its own after losing chief spin doctor Jerry Lloyd. Lloyd has been poached by the government's Sector Skills Council Development Agency – a body set up to improve training in a number of key industries. Ironically, the CITB is hoping to gain accreditation from the SSCDA to become the approved training agency for construction. If so, it will first have to stop losing key staff …
An unlikely figure is poised to join Ken Livingstone, hard-left trade unionists and other enemies of public–private partnerships. The Thatcherite MP John Redwood is writing a book attacking the idea. However, Redwood's beef with PPPs is somewhat surprising. While most critics say it gives too much power to capitalist scum, Redwood thinks it leaves too much with faceless bureaucrats. Maybe it's just sour grapes caused by being out of power – after all, Redwood championed PPPs when he was a minister.
Norman Foster’s naughty bits
A recent Building article about the low level of IT literacy in our industry has got me thinking. So much so that I've decided to launch myself into cyberspace – so I'm now wired up for this email malarkey. Send your tittle-tattle to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Surf on comrades!