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In brief

Owen Williams is to take over the highways and building engineering consultancies of East Sussex County Council having beaten both Atkins and Babtie to the £4.2M turnover business. Under established contracts it will also provide engineering services to Brighton & Hove Unitary Authority. Some 125 staff, including highways and bridge engineers architects and building engineers, will transfer from the local authority to form a new division led by regional director Maurice Jenkins. The deal takes Owen Williams staff numbers beyond 750 and, on the back of last year purchase of facilities manager RT James, will spearhead a move into the building maintenance sector.

Railtrack has chosen Balfour Beatty as preferred bidder for the refurbishment and remodelling of track and structures on the West Coast Main Line approach to London's Euston station.

Prime Minister Tony Blair will launch BAA's long-awaited Heathrow Express service on 23 June. The quarter-hourly shuttle from London's Paddington station will replace the temporary Fasttrain train/coach service and cost £10 each way.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has stumped up £100M to improve Northern Ireland's roads. The grant enables new works, where in the past funding has been allocated on a needs-led basis. Work will include upgrading the A1 between Belfast and Newry and the A5 Londonderry to Ballygalley section, an M1- M2 link to Belfast centre and port, a bypass at Toombridge, County Antrim, and dualling between Belfast and Larne.

UK plant manufacturer JCB this week reported a 20% fall in pre-tax profits to £80.3M despite turnover rising 3% to £773.5M due to the strong pound. However, the company retained its position as world's fifth largest supplier of machinery, exporting 76% of output.

Freshly painted hoarding and 10,000 shrubs have been enlisted to brighten the roadside on the sites of the twice-cancelled A40 Gipsy Corner and Western Circus improvement schemes in London. Consultants will report to the Highways Agency by early 1999 on the best way to recoup public funds sunk in to buying properties on the 1.6km route.

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