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Industry fears government could scrap chief construction adviser

Fears emerged this week that ministers could scrap the role of the chief construction adviser.

Construction minister Mark Prisk said he could not confirm whether the role held by Paul Morrell would survive a two-year review in November.

Prisk said Morrell has been a useful presence and that he would like to see his role continue. But when pressed to confirm that it would be safe from spending cuts, he would only say that the adviser post was “a good role”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirmed it would review the need for a chief construction advisor when Morrell’s contract ends in November this year.

“It is technically speaking under review,” said a BIS spokesman. “It makes sense to take stock and see whether it’s been useful.” He said the review had always been planned, and was not the result of the role being specifically earmarked for cost savings.

“I’ve been immensely impressed with the work that Paul Morrell does”

Mark Prisk

Prisk’s comments were made at the Ecobuild exhibition last week. “I’ve been immensely impressed with the work that Paul Morrell does,” he said. “I think the role is good and the last government was right to create it.”

Construction Industry Council chairman Gordon Masterton, also speaking at Ecobuild, warned against axing the role.

“If the post isn’t retained, that would be a false economy and a big missed opportunity,” he said. “The construction industry needs many champions.”

ICE president Peter Hansford said scrapping the role would damage relations between the industry and the government.

“It’s vital that this important role is retained, not only to ensure continued co-ordination and consistency across other key platforms now in place − such as Infrastructure UK, the national policy statements and the planning system − but importantly, to drive forward the progress already made by the innovation and growth team,” he said.

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