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Construction’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic
presents an opportunity to strengthen the industry, provided there is the right
leadership, says Caroline Gumble.
Much of the focus of our industry is now on recovery and the
unique opportunity we have to strengthen the sector. Making a success of this
opportunity will require real leadership and meaningful collaboration.
I want to give credit to a couple of true respected
professionals from our industry who have both encouraged and supported a
collaborative approach and offered strong and consistent leadership during the
pandemic. My thanks to Andy Mitchell, co-chair of the Construction Leadership
Council (CLC), and Mark Reynolds of Mace, also a prominent voice on the CLC
(and a CIOB Fellow).
The CLC has now published its Roadmap to Recovery, which the
CIOB supports. It was a significant undertaking, with input from many different
organisations. One thing was clear from the start and that was the consensus on
seizing the chance to make the changes to our sector that many have long wanted
Among the calls we made during development of the CLC’s plan
was to pull forward long-term socially valuable projects, supporting employment
and ensuring our built environment is fit for the future. I was pleased to
see the plan recognise the opportunities with domestic repair and maintenance,
not only for economic reasons but for people’s health and wellbeing.
We also called for clarity in the government’s expectations
of how the industry will handle any contractual conflicts arising from the
unanticipated site closures. The CLC plan covers minimising disruption due to
contractual disputes, with a call for public sector clients to support
contractors in restarting site activity.
The plan also mentions an industry commitment to ensure
prompt payment to firms within the supply chain and a commitment from clients
to follow guidance on responsible contractual behaviour, all of which we
There is a note of caution to be sounded, however, as the
coronavirus remains present and there are fears of a possible second wave of
infections. I urge you to have supplementary plans in place to deal with this
possibility if the industry is to have complete confidence in restarting while
lockdown measures are being eased.
Caroline Gumble is chief executive of the CIOB