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Communication answer

Letters

Your debate on contractor fines (NCE 4 May) misses the point. The travelling public are probably more aware of their built environment and the need to maintain it than ever before. They are acutely aware of the impacts of construction on journey times, noise, air quality, safety and the general presentation of contractors.

This debate is not a matter of fines but about skilful communication. Contractors and infrastructure owners/ maintainers put communication and consultation towards the bottom of their list of priorities.

They are sceptical and sneering towards the value of keeping people informed and presenting themselves on site in a professional, courteous and sensitive manner.

Perhaps this is due to their lack of appreciation of how people feel and the inconvenience they actually go through when roads are dug up at random, without warning and without consultation with local authorities, public transport, police or emergency services. Despite the legal process of notification and the plethora of legislation which intends to govern these works, the 'sod-them' attitude of so many contracting organisations still amazes me.

My company has been at the forefront of communications and consultation for many years in the rail industry. Despite the often noisy and disruptive nature of railway works - much of which is carried out at night - we have been able to demonstrate that with best practice, environmental sensitivity and a good communication framework, works can be carried out effectively and efficiently.

Support to this approach has come in from sensitive boroughs such as the London Borough of Camden which have applauded this pro-active approach.

From a project perspective, the contractors have been able to focus on the planning and implementation of the works rather then get distracted on external issues which in the main they are not equipped to handle.

If the contractors and clients retained a good consultation/ communication service these problems would be minimised.

Contractors would be applauded for their timely completion and handling of the works and clients would be commended for their sensitive approach to the environment.

While I accept all the logistical arguments on size and location, planned and unplanned works, the fundamental issue is the need to have a robust communication framework, easily paid for by the proposed fines!

Tim Jones Group commercial director Schofield Lothian

timjones@schofields.com

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