Raynsford told Building at this week’s Labour conference in Bournemouth that the government would pay for advertising to promote the upcoming quality mark pilot scheme in Birmingham. The bill is estimated at £100 000.
The move marks a U-turn in government policy. Previously, senior civil servants said that industry would pay for the advertising as the scheme had to be owned by the industry rather than the government. The total bill for advertising the quality mark is estimated to be as much as £8m.
Payment is not the only sticking point between the government and the industry over the pilot schemes. Last week, the DETR was forced to set up an emergency 10-strong steering group for the pilots, after the industry failed to provide its own organisation. Tony Merricks, who heads the DETR’s Combating Cowboy Builders working group, proposed that an independent body oversee the quality mark.
Companies covered by the scheme will offer a warranty to protect customers from cost overruns and defects. Industry experts predict that builders will have to pay between £200 and £1000 to join the scheme.
Yesterday, Building was due to co-host a fringe meeting on combating cowboy builders, with the Construction Industry Board and Bournemouth-based contractor George & Harding, at the Labour conference. The debate was due to be chaired by Chartered Institute of Building president Paul Shepherd; Nick Raynsford was due to speak.
It has been a busy week for the construction minister, who has decided to run for the official Labour nomination for mayor of London. His opponents are former transport minister Glenda Jackson, backbench MP Ken Livingstone and broadcaster Trevor Phillips.
It is understood that Raynsford will stay in his government post for the duration of the campaign. The mayoral election is due to be held next May.
Hearing of his decision, Construction Industry Training Board chairman Hugh Try said: “He will make a fine mayor, but I will be sad to see such a capable minister go.”
Last week, Raynsford led a British delegation from the UK construction industry to Turkey. He was accompanied by representatives from 17 companies, including contractors Balfour Beatty, Amec Civil Engineering, Kvaerner and Taylor Woodrow; engineers Ove Arup & Partners, High Point Rendel and Brown & Root; and architect Swanke Hayden Connell.
Raynsford said: “We visited the areas affected by the earthquake and experienced sights more horrifying than anything we might have expected, or would wish to experience again.
“Many buildings have toppled over and others have collapsed like packs of cards. Some buildings have dropped several storeys because of the liquefaction of the ground. In some cases, bodies are still trapped inside.
“The problems in Adapazari are particularly acute. Eighty-three per cent of homes are uninhabitable.”