Things have turned nasty for the construction team on the Scottish parliament. Local red top the Daily Record has stuck the boot in with a story headed "Lifestyles of the rich and infamous", in which it publishes the salary details of construction's "Bisto Boys" on the "Holyrood gravy train". The paper quotes the salaries of Alan Mack, Bovis' operation director, Hugh Fisher, Davis Langdon & Everest's senior partner, and Brian Stewart of architect RMJM. The highest figure mentioned was £90,000 a year, which admit ain't bad, but hardly the diet of a truly porky feline – even if it is enough to make a tabloid hack green with envy.
Steel toe-capped stilettoes Television is providing a rich seam of work for the building industry at the moment. The latest construction-related programme to make it to the small screen is With a Little Help from My Friends, hosted by Queen of the Jungle Linda Barker. It's an unlikely cross between Challenge Anneka and the Friends Reunited website. The idea is that celebrities complete a building task with the help of old school friends (oh, and an army of media-hungry architects and builders). First up is Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, who is very well connected, though I think even she may have trouble finding a scaffolder in her little black book.
Still on the telly theme, a production company is set to commission a reality show featuring the public as budding builders. The Big Brother-style programme will focus on 10 couples as they struggle to design and build a new home. An architect will help the teams specify the building materials and a resident builder will be on hand to turn design into reality. True to the spirit of reality TV, the contestants will be able to vote off couples they don't think are pulling their weight – an idea that might appeal to professional project teams. Of the multitude of celebs slated as potential hosts it is Linda Barker (again) that is said to be in with a good chance of fronting the show. Well, given the fact that Linda was last seen speaking at the Local Authority Building Control annual lunch, I'd say she was a pretty hot tip.
I dub thee Sir Impecunious
The £100,000-a-year role as boss of Constructing Excellence isn't the only top lobbying job going.
I hear there is a vacancy for the presidency of the Construction Confederation. Sir John Gains' three-year stint has officially come to an end, but he is carrying on until a successor can be found. Unfortunately, so many leading contractors have left the Major Contractors Group bit of the confederation, few potential captains remain. And unlike the Constructing Excellence role, this head honcho's job is unpaid. But there is one potential benefit – Gains has just been knighted for his endeavours.
Enter the risk weasel
Before the Latham revolution, the industry was bedevilled by claims consultants stirring up conflict wherever they could. Now, just when a non-adversarial culture appears to be taking root in construction, along comes a new menace: risk management consultants. One leading QS complains to me that they are being bombarded by emails from this new breed, offering to tell them how to avoid any potential liabilities in its advice to clients. In some companies, apparently, no letter or email is allowed to leave the office without first being vetted by the risk management consultant. For a sizeable fee, of course.