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Construction Council: Olympics should be fast-tracked to save economy

Chair of the newly-formed CBI Construction Council, Carillion chief executive John McDonough, said large projects such as the Olympics should be fast-tracked to boost employment and sustain the construction industry and the economy.

McDonough said: "There was room for the government to fast-track certain projects to give the industry a boost.

"Our view is that the government must not lose value for money, but they should employ where they can. The Olympics will employ 35,000 people. Network Rail is investing billions, BAA is investing billions, Transport for London is investing billions. We cannot dream up a new project from nowhere."

McDonough said that in the case of Network Rail or the Highways Agency, "Specific projects in specific areas," could be selected to maximise employment.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland pledged to take issues facing construction directly to government.

Cridland said, "We require the company CEOs to bring their experience of missed opportunities. The CBI is then more likely to get a result by taking these issues to the heart of government."

"We are in constant dialogue with government - at all parts of Whitehall including the Treasury, and they are all over us. It does not mean they will accept our ideas but they are receptive to ideas. Our job will be to push these ideas."

McDonough listed the seven main issues the first meeting brought up:

- Raising the profile of the industry - why does construction matter. Are we clear about what we do?

- Getting better strategies and discussion with government.

- Maintenance of government capital spend, especially for PFI and PPP projects, and to sustain the current construction agenda.

-Continuous improvement in collaborative partnerships etc.

- Liquidity and the availability of credit,

- Training and skills,

- Planning for major projects.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling will reveal where additional money will be invested to deal with the liquidity crunch in the Pre Budget Report, released next month.

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