Cardiff Council has called for contractors interested in potentially building an indoor arena and convention centre in the city centre.

Though these plans are still in the early stages, the council is looking for firms interested in these two major building projects, both expected to cost around £60 million to build. Along with the Welsh Government they are exploring a number of different funding options, including potentially borrowing (with a low interest long-term repayment plan) from the Treasury's Public Works Loan Board. Another avenue that has been suggested is the use of tax increment financing.

Talks with other cities and developers have seen it draw up plans for a 15,000-seat capacity indoor arena in a horse-shoe layout, rather than conventional fan-shaped floor plate. It will not only be used to stage major sporting events and concerts, but also annual party political conferences.

Alongside this the council also aims to deliver a 1,500-seat international conference centre with around 500,000 sq ft of exhibition space. The plans are an essential part of the Labour council’s vision for boosting the capital’s economy over the next 20 to 30 years.

Via Construction Enquirer

£617.5 million is planned to be spent on transport and housing infrastructure construction, according to plans published by Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt.

The transport investments will include £40m for the dualling the A465 between Gilwern and Brynmawr, £40m spend on improving the M4 Brynglas tunnel and then £17m for improvements to the A55 in North Wales. £62m will also go toward the first phase of a new scene to create a South East Wales metro system through better bus and rail links.

Meanwhile a total of £170m will go toward housing, £140m of while will be used up until 2016 on the "Help to Buy" scheme. This is in addition to the £34.5m already invested in it during this current financial year.

Other investments included in the plans are £38m toward improving Welsh health facilities (including the final phase of the Noah' Ark Children's Hospital for Wales), £70m for home energy efficiency scheme ARBED ECO and £20m to support a programme of flood and coastal defence improvements.

Jane Hutt said: "Since 2010, the UK government has made significant cuts to our capital budget. By 2015-16 it will be 33% lower in real terms than in 2009-10.

"The tough economic conditions continue but I am determined to use every pound available to invest in infrastructure and boost economic growth in the long-term."

Via The Construction Index

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Via Construction Enquirer

Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.

The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.

This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.

"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.

"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."

Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:

Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.

This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.

Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?

I would hardly call this support adequate.

A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Building has suggested that many construction professionals feel that corruption is commonplace in the industry, with many being offered bribes or incentives during their time.

The survey used a sample of 700 construction professionals and aimed to investigate whether corruption is considered to be a problem in the UK, exactly what practices were considered "corrupt" and which areas were particularly susceptible to them. The sample included over 300 senior managers and directors, with more than one in three (35%) admitted to have being offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion. Nearly 38% had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.

They placed the blame on squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads, which were resulting in pressuring professionals into corrupt practices in order to stay afloat.

The rest of the main statistics from the survey have been listed below:

  • 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
  • Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
  • Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
  • 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
  • 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
  • Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
  • 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
  • Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.

Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said "This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.

"That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law."

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive Michael Brown added that measures such as the Bribery Act had a limited effect, with no prosecutions against businesses taking place. "If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress," he remarked.

Via Construction Enquirer

The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.

The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:

  • 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
  • 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
  • 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years

With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.

When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.

CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."

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