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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

Precision engineering in a box, from highly-trained personnel

Construction National blog logoBack in July I was waxing lyrical about a TV documentary on the new station at Canary Wharf, part of the massive Crossrail project. Crossrail issued an update on progress at the station this week. Fascinatingly, it has completed the 7.6m diameter 'tunnel eyes' – one at each end of the station box. These are target points for two huge tunnelling machines that will, everyone is confidently predicting, emerge into the station to connect it to the Crossrail network.

The tunnel box itself is an engineering masterpiece, having been built 'top-down' into the river basin and delivered five months ahead of schedule. The project to construct the rail link across London is nearly as impressive as the original Underground project in the 19th century.

• Time was a White Paper was an official Government document outlining future policy, often leading to the publication of a Bill for presentation to the House. It was so-called to differentiate it from a Green Paper, which was a document outlining proposals that were up for consultation.

Nowadays the term seems to apply to any report by an organisation that can be taken seriously. Such is the Building magazine Housing and Planning 2013 'White Paper'. It is an authoritative report on the state of the market and, crucially, changes to the planning system, enabling investors and housebuilders to make informed decisions. It also has a 'league table' of local authorities' performance in planning terms (that being how amenable they are to planning applications).

It has been produced in light of the planning reforms announced by Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles back in September. It also contains an in-depth report on the state of the housing market, bringing together information from NHBC, HBF, Barbour ABI and others. At £249+VAT it's available from the mag's website.

• It appears the Office of Fair Trading is carrying out an investigation into whether a trade association in the construction industry breached competition law in regard to the provision of training services. The body has not been named and there is no presumption that such a breach took place.

Training provision has long been a minefield for all industries, but the construction sector in particular. There is no doubting the need for an appropriately trained workforce, but there has definitely been the impression of a sort of gravy train operating, with anyone and their ladder offering to train people. Whatever happened to technical colleges and colleges of building, run by local authorities with no drum to bang and funded by local industry? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Meanwhile, of course, membership of a respected trade association is a key indicator of a contractor or tradesperson's competence, as can be deduced from the Construction Directory of this site.

Chris Stokes