Chief executive of the Confederation of Construction Clients draws up radical plans for restructuring.
The Confederation of Construction Clients is this week fighting for survival after the DTI refused to bail it out.

Building understands that the DTI gave the organisation £50,000 last week, but will not provide it with permanent funding.

Chief executive Zara Lamont is drawing up plans to save the organisation, which represents big-spending clients.

"We're looking to restructure," said Lamont. "We're not flush with funds – like any small business, there are always cash flow problems. We need to strengthen our position."

The confederation has only 21 paid up members, mostly large firms and public sector bodies.

Lamont met construction minister Brian Wilson and strategic forum chairman Peter Rogers last Wednesday to ask for government support and to discuss how the confederation could better address the needs of one-off and occasional clients, which are considered a priority by the government and the strategic forum.

"There is a huge need for an independent client body but the CCC has struggled to get the breadth of membership necessary to make it commercially viable," said Rogers. "It will have to change tack so it can bring in other client organisations. It shouldn't be about a few elite clients – it should be more inclusive."

Lamont plans to turn the confederation into a single voice to represent all construction clients on the strategic forum. She hopes to persuade rival client bodies such as the British Council for Offices and the British Property Federation – as well as bodies representing public sector clients – to join it.

She also wants pan-industry bodies with client members, such as the Design Build Foundation, to join. She said: "Getting other bodies on board would strengthen our position."

However her plans were dealt a blow by the BPF and DBF. "The BPF is not going to be interested," said Tony Giddings of developer Argent, which is a member of the BPF, and chairman of the DBF. "The DBF isn't a member of the confederation and I have no intention of joining."

Giddings said the confederation was too narrowly focused on the interests of its membership, which includes BAA and Railtrack. "The confederation can be viewed as a very insular body. I don't think meeting fellow clients and moaning about the industry is very constructive," he said. "You solve problems by the industry working together. My view is that it should merge with someone like the DBF."

The DBF is preparing to merge with the Reading Construction Forum to form an industry-wide body, likely to be called Built Environment. Reading chairman Richard Saxon will head the body, which is due to be launched later this month.