This week we report on electricians looming, PRs swearing, musicians wandering, directors emerging … and the forum that nobody can locate
Brumwell’s barmy army
I gather there was quite a send-off for outgoing UCATT general secretary George Brumwell at Heathrow Terminal 5 recently. Brumwell was instrumental in striking the £55,000 pay deal for workers on the site last year and BAA bosses were keen to thank him for ensuring that industrial relations had run pretty smoothly so far. The general picture of merriment was only briefly interrupted when Brumwell muttered “you haven’t had the crazy gang in yet”. Surely he couldn’t have been referring to the army of electricians that will shortly be arriving on site?
My spies at the BBC tell me that the corporation’s feelings for its so-called Music Box have cooled. This, you may recall, was the £22m music centre that had been planned for White City, west London, to house the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Hip young practice Foreign Office Architects won the design competition last year but nothing much has been heard since. Now it seems that the Beeb’s new director-general Mark Thompson and chairman Michael Grade are showing rather more interest in banishing 2000 staffers to Manchester than housing musicians in flashy new surroundings. Well, there’s always busking, chaps.
In search of CIPER
On the subject of possible lost causes, have there been any positive sightings of CIPER recently? The snappily titled body was much heralded back in March when it was set up to help soothe the prickly relationship between the construction industry and the Whitehall machine. Since then, however, it has vanished without trace – apart from one brief sighting in August – and some members are fearing for its safety. Rumours that it has started a new life in a hippy commune in Goa are as yet unconfirmed.
The many faces of Mace
I’m pleased to see that some of the staff at former fit-out firm Spectrum Projects, which collapsed in the summer owing nearly £9m, are beginning to find new homes. The two founders, Brian Tripp and Matt Bray, were quick to find positions elsewhere, and now I hear former marketing director Robin Harris is to re-emerge at that most versatile of firms, Mace – which seems to do practically everything these days from quantity surveying to project management, construction management and cleaning the carpets. I do hope Harris got plenty of rest while he had the chance.
It appears to be a two-horse race for the chairman’s spot with former culture secretary Chris Smith vying with design guru John Sorrell. Sorrell appears to be the favourite as Smith has pledged to stay on as an MP after next year’s general election.
Word reaches me that two industry big-hitters made it to the final four for the job, namely Crest Nicholson chief executive John Callcutt (pictured left) and former NHS Estates chief executive Kate Priestley (right). Perhaps CABE’s hang-ups about potential conflicts of interests meant their industry credentials did them no favours.