The new CBI Construction Council says government should accelerate spending in areas such as Olympics and BSF during the downturn

The CBI Construction Council has said it will put pressure on the government to accelerate areas of public sector spend during the downturn.

The industry’s new trade body, which saw the Major Contractors Group and National Contractors Federation disbanded, met for the first time today and announced its 24 initial members.

Chairman John McDonough, who is also chief executive of Carillion, said it would work with the CBI to identify specific areas that can be accelerated.

He said: “We can’t magic up new spending but we can identify to the Treasury which areas of the BSF, Network Rail and Olympic spend can be accelerated.”

“We’re happy with the money being spent at the moment. If the government sticks to its plans for this year and 2009 it is a great start.”

The body plans to meet four times a year and includes representatives from the housebuilding, specialist and consultancy sector. It is in the process of recruiting small and medium-size representatives.

McDonough added: “The government wants real life examples of where the pain is in the industry and we are in dialogue with very senior sources in Whitehall.”

He said the main items on its agenda were:

  • Raising the profile of the industry
  • Sustainability
  • Collaborative working and frameworks
  • Liquidity and availability of credit
  • Training and skills
  • Planning

On the liquidity problems, Mark Andrews, chief executive of NG Bailey, said: “We are seeing the knock-on effects in terms of developments out there where the plug is being pulled because of credit shortage.”

The council includes Barratt chief executive Mark Clare and Taylor Wimpey boss Pete Redfern but there was no mention of concrete assistance from government for troubled companies.

Keith Miller, chief executive of Miller Group, said: “It’s a market problem and it will take the banks and buyers to work through their problems.”

The 24 names also include:

  • Ian Tyler, chief executive of Balfour Beatty
  • Andrew Wyllie, chief executive, Costain
  • James Wates, deputy chairman, Wates Group
  • Paul Hodgkinson, chief executive, Simons Group
  • Mats Williamson, chief executive, Skanska UK
  • Terry Hill, chairman, Arup
  • Malcolm McAlpine, director, Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Steve Hindley, chairman, Midas Group