How were the Blair years for you? Today we highlight five successes of Tony Blair's ten years in charge. Are there any more you would add?
It’s always been said that construction does well under Labour, but when Tony Blair came to power in 1997 nobody would have dreamed just how well.
Since then there has been virtually uninterrupted growth in output, house prices and public spending. But although the industry has certainly enjoyed a boom courtesy of messrs Blair and Brown, will posterity judge the money to have been well spent? And how has Blair shaped the built environment and the industry that produces it? The short answer is that the policies were pretty good, but the implementation often ropey. You’ll have your views, but here in a nutshell is our take on the highs. Tomorrow we'll be asking you for your opinion on the lows.
Reasons to be cheerful
1 Investment in public services. This only got going in the second term, but since then we have seen an unprecendented wave of hospital building and the biggest school renewal programme since the Victorians. The PFI was made to work, but it did so at times in a tortuous and wasteful way, and was too often the enemy of good design. Perhaps only now have we got the checks and balances right.
2 Regeneration. Our cities have been transformed, and urban living is seen as desirable. New homes are built on brownfield land in mixed-use developments rather than greenfield estates.
3 Design. The setting up of Cabe now seems a masterstroke. Housebuilders are employing signature architects and every city wants an iconic tower. The public sector has some catching up to do.
4 Making the industry a better place to work. Prescott put health and safety on the map, the Construction Act reduced the number of disputes and the Egan report has led everyone to take a more collaborative approach.
5 The climate change agenda. The need for buildings to tackle climate change has hit the agenda over the past couple of years, and Blair has been an effective advocate of this, here and abroad.
Bonus cheer: Winning the Olympics. We still may rue the day, but the plans for 2012 really will bring much need improvement to great swaths of derelict land in the east of London.