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NCE Live News Updates Wednesday 4 September: UK slips to 10th in global competitive index

Bam Nuttall has explained its decision to settle in its dispute with Cambridgeshire County Council over costs to build its guided busway.

3.30pm: The government has mooted a law change to force all construction vehicles to be fitted with guards to reduce the danger they pose to cyclists.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond today said he would review exemptions to current vehicle regulations that allow some lorries not to have side guards.

It comes as part of a major attempt to make heavy-goods vehicles less of a threat to cyclist safety in London.

Hammond, London mayor Boris Johnson and the capital’s transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy announced a series of measures. These included plans to create a task force to take direct action against dangerous HGV drivers, vehicles and operators.

 

12pm: The developers behind the Walkie-Talkie have erected a scaffold screen to shield a local street from intense glare bouncing off the skyscraper.

Light reflecting from the London tower has been blamed for damage to a car and disruption to local businesses, according to reports this week.

Developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said a temporary screen had been erected at street level on Eastcheap.

“This solution should minimise the impact on the local area over the next two to three weeks, after which time the phenomenon is expected to have disappeared,” said a joint statement.

“Three parking bays will remain suspended. We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future.”

 

11.30am: Bam Nuttall has spoken about its “pragmatic” settlement with Cambridgeshire County Council over the guided busway costs dispute.

The contractor last week paid the council £33M to end the long-running dispute.

It has now said in a statement: “Bam Nuttall has taken a pragmatic decision as a mature, responsive contractor to minimise further legal costs to the benefit of both parties and to solve the dispute through engagement rather than through legal means.

“Cambridgeshire County Council has now made public isolated aspects of the settlement. Throughout the project Bam Nuttall has consistently chosen not to discuss the nature or scope of the dispute in the media and does not intend to change this position or discuss the full extent of the commercial considerations that have led to the settlement.”

The contractor said it wanted to focus on the positive aspects of the project, which it insisted had exceeded expectations in its engineering and operational outputs.

“Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is the longest busway scheme in the world, with 25km of route constructed to a high quality while meeting complex environmental and ecological challenges,” said the statement.

 

10.30am: The number of people applying for engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships online is growing faster than the number of vacancies, research has revealed.

The National Apprenticeship Service found there were 211,660 online applications for apprenticeships in the sector in 2012/13. This was up by 12 per cent from the previous year.

But there were only 16,196 vacancies for the applicants to battle over, up just 9 per cent from the previous year.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: “We want to see it become the norm that young people either go to university or into an apprenticeship.

“To match the growing popularity of apprenticeships, I would urge more employers to consider how hiring an apprentice could benefit their business.”

 

10am: Union Unite has accepted there was no contravention of Blacklisting Regulations on the Crossrail projects run by the BAM Ferrovial Kier consortium.

BFK is constructing two tunnels between the Royal Oak Portal and the Farringdon Crossrail station, as well as station tunnel caverns at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon.

The consortium has agreed to work with Unite “to continue the provision of transparent working practices including safeguarding the right of workers to choose whether or not to join a trade union’ according to a joint statement”.

The statement added: “BFK and Unite agree that there has been no contravention of the Blacklisting Regulations on the BFK Crossrail projects.”

 

9am: High debt levels have seen the UK slip from eighth to 10th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Index.

The UK’s macroeconomic climate is ranked 115 out of 148 countries assessed.

But its infrastructure - one of 12 criteria used by the Forum to assess competitiveness - is ranked eighth in the world.

Access to financing was marked out as the most problematic factor to doing business in the UK. Inadequate infrastructure was rated seventh.

As in previous years, this year’s top 10 remains dominated by European countries, with Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK confirming their places among the most competitive economies.

Three Asian countries also figure in the top 10, with Singapore remaining the second-most competitive economy in the world and Hong Kong and Japan placing 7th and 9th respectively.

 

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