Balfour Beatty has quit the Major Contractors Group claiming that the organisation does not represent the needs of top firms.
A spokesperson for Balfour Beatty said: "We joined the MCG because we felt that it represented the largest of the major contractors and their interests. Our motive for not continuing – and this is not a criticism – is that the MCG has widened and doesn't represent the specific needs of the very largest contractors." The contractor told the MCG that it intended to pull out at the end of 1999 and did not renew its membership at the start of this year.

Balfour Beatty denied claims that its withdrawal was linked to the MCG's new focus on health and safety. The spokesperson said: "Our health and safety record is comparable with other firms and has improved over the past five years. We support the MCG's safety initiatives." He noted that the firm handed in its notice before the Hatfield rail crash.

MCG director Bill Tallis said Balfour Beatty's departure was not the start of a mass exodus of members.

He said: "I would be worried if other major players decide to leave but they have given no indication that they want to."