Author of Latham Report calls for creation of new body to maintain partnering ethos in industry.
Sir Michael Latham has raised fears of a return to the "bad old days" of adversarial contracting after last week's decision to wind up the Construction Industry Board.

Latham, who wrote the 1994 report Constructing the Team, which aimed to move construction towards non-adversarial relationships, urged that a body be created to fill the role left by the CIB's closure.

He said: "I very much hope that we can create some new forum for clients and contractors to come together. Otherwise we will just go back to the old adversarial times when contractors tried to hoodwink clients and clients tried to order their contractors around." However, Latham accepted that the CIB had come to the end of its natural life. He said: "No institution should go on for ever, and if the CIB has lost the support of clients, it's probably right to close it down." The decision on the CIB's future was taken after it failed to gain client support at a crunch meeting of its board last week.

The Confederation of Construction Clients, which includes government agencies, BAA and McDonald's, refused to join the board, on the grounds that it did not offer a strategic service for clients.

A statement from the CIB said a new strategic forum to oversee industry issues would be established. It added that its duties would include overseeing action on health and safety.

It said: "It is hoped that the new forum will fully engage the CCC and in turn will help the CCC to become a fully inclusive, single voice for construction clients." Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, said industry members were divided over whether to push for a single client forum or a pan-industry body.

He said: "If push comes to shove then the latter is more important. No one wants to push the CCC into a corner, but I don't think any of us wants to be bullied into not having a pan-industry body." Watts added that there were concerns over who would run continuing industry initiatives, such as the considerate contractors scheme and national construction week.

He said: "The good thing about the CIB is that it was neutral and independent. This is a step backwards. It is a great shame." The CIB was launched in 1995 but was never assigned an official life-span.