This week we are treated to more of Nigel Griffiths’ rough magic, Ken Bates is remembered and the Construction Confederation’s dark secret is exposed
This charming man
The private office of construction minister Nigel Griffiths has apparently taken exception to press coverage of the construction fringe meeting at the Labour party conference a couple of weeks ago. To recap, Griffiths turned up late, got slightly aggressive, told an audience of construction representatives that he only had “seven minutes to speak”, which apparently “was the deal”, then marched off. Hurt at the manner in which this was misrepresented in the press, Griffith’s office is now urging construction bodies to complain. Sadly, this tactic has not gone down too well. Representatives of the industry’s “great networker” have, I’ve been reliably informed, been told to “bog off”.
Talking of charm
As the acrimony over the Wembley stadium project continues, I was reminded of an unfortunate precedent from the early days of the scheme … back when my old friend Ken Bates was in charge. The feisty former Chelsea chairman had announced a change to the scheme without informing the project team.
This clearly ruffled feathers at Foster and Partners and HOK, and an executive decision was made to send Lord Foster himself to have a sit down with Ken. Foster duly turned up to Bates’ office and was greeted with his customary charm. “How the f*** did you become a lord,” were apparently the first words he uttered to the world-famous architect.
The worlds of romance and trade unionism so rarely meet that it gives me great pleasure to announce the upcoming nuptials of UCATT boss George Brumwell. George was greeted with loud cheers at a recent UCATT meeting when he declared that he had promised his fiancée Dot that they would get married before he retires on 22 October. I can therefore say with some confidence that one of the happiest day of George’s life will occur at some point in the next eight days.
I have to confess to something of a balls-up in reporting the opening of an housing scheme by the Cathedral Group a couple of weeks ago (1 October, page 31). I suggested there was a no-show at the launch, which stretched reality somewhat. In fact 300 guests turned up to the public opening of the scheme and 10 reservations were made out of 41 units over the ensuing days. My humble apologies.
I hear the Construction Confederation is swiftly settling into its new Westminster premises, despite some distinctly unsettling goings-on in its state-of-the-art toilets. Apparently, the lighting in the block is movement-sensitive, which means that if you like to “freshen up” at your leisure you will be faced with pitch-blackness after a minute or so. It sounds to me like a cunning drive by the confederation to get more out of its staff.