Construction minister intends to give every industry single point of contact with regional development agencies

Construction minister Alun Michael intends to use the South East of England Development Agency as a “one stop shop” for the construction industry.

Michael, 62, is minister for industries and the regions. He wants businesses to think about the economic development of regions.

Each regional development agency will be a lead organisation for an industry, and SEEDA has been designated the contact point for construction.

SEEDA has appointed Ken Glendinning, its head of land and property, to act as the point of contact. He will liaise with the other RDAs and act as the point of contact for trade bodies – except on the issue of construction skills, which will be led by the East of England Development Agency.

Speaking to Building, Michael said: “The obvious port of call in an area will still be the RDA, but if there are industry-wide issues, there will be a single point of contact to feed into the RDA family.”

Michael added that the system would help skills issues to be addressed at the regional and national level. He will chair an RDA forum, and he has asked Phil Hope, the skills minister at the Department for Education and Skills, to assess shortages in each area.

For industry issues there will be a single point of contact in the RDA family

Alun Michael

Michael emphasises that the plan was to help industry fit in with the economic strategy of each region, rather than reduce the roles of RDAs.

He said: “I’m conscious that there are trade issues that come up at a national level and that these need to be tied into the work of RDAs without the industry having to go and knock on nine doors.”

Elliot Frankel, a spokesperson for the RDA secretariat, which chairs meeting of the nine RDAs, said the new plan had grown out of a recognition that the RDAs needed to work together more co-operatively.

One senior industry insider said: “There’s an issue about how you would devolve power to these people and what their agenda is. The jury’s still out.”

Michael said the government intended to publish the analysis of its responses to the consultation on the Construction Act and announce next steps during the autumn.