Industry umbrella group is getting "mixed signals" from the new Confederation of Construction Clients.
The new construction clients' body is stalling on whether to join the Construction Industry Board, raising doubts about the future of the umbrella group.

The Confederation of Construction Clients, which was launched yesterday, has yet to take up the CIB's offer to join, made in June. Industry insiders have warned that the CIB could become toothless without the involvement of clients.

CCC executive secretary Tony Pollington said it was too early to make a decision. He said: "We are waiting until the clients' priorities have been defined by the confederation."

At a meeting with the CIB on 25 October, CCC chairman Mike Roberts said it would be important to "find ways to have a dialogue with the CIB's umbrella bodies".

CIB chief executive Don Ward is hopeful that the body will join. He said this week: "We have got mixed signals from them, but we recognise that it only came into being on Thursday. We will be worried if we are still in this position in March."

The CIB was set up after the 1994 Latham report to oversee the shift to non-adversarial contracting. Under a new structure announced in June, the Construction Industry Council, Client Liaison Group, the Construction Products Association, Construction Confederation and the Federation of Master Builders each have two seats on the board.

The new make-up follows a year-long review by CIB chairman Chris Vickers.

CPA chief executive Michael Ankers expressed disappointment that the CCC had not already given an indication that it would join the CIB.

He said: "It is short-sighted of them to think that they can work on their own to bring about the necessary changes [to the industry]."

The CCC, which replaces the Construction Clients Forum and has members including Railtrack, NHS Estates, Defence Estates and the Office of Government Commerce, has vowed to improve clients' performance by tackling four areas in the first year.

These are: having a workforce of qualified operatives, improving client supplier briefing, guiding clients on creating an integrated supply chain and having a system of performance measurement.

The keys to achieving this are enshrined in the clients' charter, also launched yesterday, which all CCC members will sign. Under the charter, clients will promise to use key performance indicators in areas such as profitability of the supply chain and cost predictability.