James Wates will use chairmanship to reduce the body's remit in order to prevent it losing influence

James Wates, the newly appointed Strategic Forum chairman, has signalled his intention to reduce the body's remit to a few key issues in an attempt to prevent the forum losing its influence.

Wates, who took the position of chairman from Peter Rogers two weeks ago, will review the organisation's activities over the next four months and aims to cut the forum's objectives by roughly half. Health and safety is likely to remain a top priority for the organisation, but Wates says that other issues may be dropped.

The forum advises on a number of areas, including safety, training, recruitment, client involvement, integrating teams and sustainability. But Wates said the organisation's wide remit could hinder it from driving change.

Wates said: "I want to see the Strategic Forum focus on three or four issues, rather than six or seven. That's the way it can make a difference. If the organisation is too broad, it can't have strategy."

Wates said he will use the first four months of his chairmanship to revise the objectives before the Construction Confederation takes over the secretariat of the scheme. Wates also becomes chairman of the Construction Confederation in June.

He said: "The next four months will be a hiatus period, where I will talk to various stakeholders about the direction the forum should take. I am trying to be objective over which issues should be carried forward, but if we can cut down to about four it will be fantastic."

Wates also said the Strategic Forum would work with the industry and government to address the regulatory burden facing companies. He said: "There is a real concern about the amount of regulation that comes out. The industry is very good at responding, but the volume of regulation continues to grow. It cannot be good for the industry."

Wates hit back at criticism that the rotating secretariat of the scheme, which will be passed between the Construction Confederation, Construction Industry Council and Construction Products Association, does not cover enough of the industry. Specialist bodies, including the National Specialist Contractors Council and the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, have been excluded from the seat.

Wates said: "We now have the real opportunity to look at the industry holistically. You can't broaden the position too much, but we will engage with those outside of the group. There can't be any disconnect between the Strategic Forum and the running of business."