Construction National

Magazine, Online Directory and Web Design Service


Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

Construction National blog: 25/04/2012

blog 200 200 128 128

The country has sunk once again into recession, according to figures published today (25 April) by the Office of National Statistics, that august body by whom I was once – briefly – employed. It is what they call a 'double-dip' recession: two quarters of contraction following one quarter of growth. The main culprit was the construction industry, with a 3% decrease in output during the first quarter of this year.

Dave said he wasn't going to try to excuse the figures or explain them away. That, at least, is a first for a politician. The deputy chair of sector skills body ConstructionSkills, Judy Lowe, was quoted as saying: "The huge cuts to public spending – 25% in public sector housing and 24% in public non-housing and with a further 10% cuts to both anticipated for 2013 – have left a hole too big for other sectors to fill."

Those of us who count cranes for a living have been wondering for a lot longer than six months what must be holding up all the buildings under construction. The answer is 'nothing' – there aren't any buildings under construction. Housebuilding has ground to a halt, with a massive downturn in the social housing sector more than cancelling out modest increases in the private sector. According to figures released by the NHBC, February saw a 58% drop in the number of new homes registered in the public sector, against a 27% increase in the public sector.

There have been glimpses of light. New transport projects are in the pipeline or underway, such as the extension of the Metrolink in Greater Manchester and the announcement of an electrification scheme for the trans-Pennine routes. Less successful was the launch of the new, £100m tramway in Blackpool. The first tram to set off from Fleetwood on 4 April was derailed and the line temporarily closed because of – sand on the tracks! In Blackpool? Well I never.

In the capital, the Crossrail project is expected to employ up to 13,000 people in the next three years or so, while the Underground has been busy upgrading stations and lines to take its new trains.

New hotel building has also seen a veritable boom. Last time I counted there were at least a dozen either recently completed or on site in London alone.

The spur for that, of course, has been London 2012. In fact the Olympic building project has almost certainly kept the construction industry alive, with over 10,000 people employed on the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village at one point in 2010. That was in addition to other venues, infrastructure and aforesaid ancillary activities such as accommodation.

What is going to happen when all that is over. Maybe we should patch things up with Herr Blatter et al and get bidding for the World Cup again. When is the next one available; 2026?

 Chris Stokes