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NCE Live News Updates Friday 21 March:Taskforce calls for HS2 courses at UTCs

Government also urged to create a minister for HS2-driven growth

4.30pm: As the government moves to make roads safer for cyclists, a manufacturer has launched a gully grate designed not to trap tyres.

Clark-Drain’s snappily-titled CLKS 185 KMD has a narrow mesh design to allow bikes to glide over it.

The Peterborough-based firm says the grate will help local authorities reduce accident rates.

Account manager Fash Shahidi said: “The CLKS 185 KMD has been purposefully manufactured with a narrow grid mesh so that it leaves no gaps for bicycle, pushchair or wheel chair tyres to get caught or deflected.”  


3pm:The procurement tool used for London Olympics construction contracts could be used for the £43bn High Speed 2 project.

Lord Deighton’s HS2 Growth Taskforce called for CompeteFor or a similar tool to be used by all main contractors to let subcontracts.

In a report published this morning, the panel said it was important that small businesses were able to access work on the creation of the rapid rail line.

“Open procurement tools like CompeteFor can open up existing supply chains both to ensure that opportunities are spread as widely as possible through the UK supply chain and to drive value,” said the report.

“HS2 can take this approach even further than previous examples of good practice, like the Olympics.

“To ensure this occurs, we believe HS2 Ltd should include in its procurement strategy a requirement for all direct suppliers to use CompeteFor or a similar tool to advertise opportunities over a given threshold which have arisen as a result of winning HS2 contracts.”


12pm: The race is on to find materials suitable for a new generation of mega-tall towers, an expert has said.

Hossein Rezai, group director of engineering consultancy Web Structures, spoke to NCE after chairing a conference on tall buildings in London this week.

Dubai’s 355m JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2 was the tallest building completed in 2013.

But Rezai said a 1km-tall building could be completed within the next decade and this would require a different method of construction.

“Using concrete for anything above 500m tall requires such a large column that it eats into valuable real estate and the losses of going taller become bigger than the gains,” he said.

There are also practical difficulties using materials and people at such heights for traditional builds, he added.

“There is a sense that our current materials and technologies have reached a level of saturation.

“Developers are now looking for lighter materials such as prefabricated steel; certain panels; reinforced expanded polystyrene.”


10.30am: A host of big names have been shortlisted for the Highways Agency’s collaborative delivery framework.

The Agency will use the new-style agreement for up to £5bn of schemes over the next four to six years.

Balfour Beatty, Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall, Bouygues, Carillion, Costain, Skanska and Laing O’Rourke are competing for up to five places on the high-value construction lot, which will cover schemes up to £450M. 

Galliford Try, Bam Nuttall/Morgan SIndall, Hochtief, John Sisk & Son/Lagan, Kier, Vinci, Laing O’Rourke, Amey, Carillion and Costain are shortlisted for up to six spots on the middle-value construction lot.

EM Highway Services, VolkerFitzpatrick, McLaughlin and Harvey, John Graham, Interserve, Amey, Alun Griffiths, Geoffrey Osborne and Galliford Try are battling for about five spots on the small-value construction lot.

Aecom, Amey OW, Arup, Atkins, Capita Symonds/Ramboll, CH2M Hill, Hyder, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald/Grontmij, Mouchel, Pell Frischmann, Royal Haskoning, RPS, URS, Waterman/Tony Gee/WYG, and WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff are competing for about 12 places on the professional design and engineering services lot.

Shortlisted firms have until late May to complete their bids, with the winners announced this autumn.

NCE reported last year that the framework was designed to boost supply chain capability.


9.15am: The High Speed 2 Taskforce has also called for creation of a minister for HS2-related growth.

Lord Deighton’s panel this morning made 19 recommendations to the government of ways to maximise the benefits of the £43bn rapid rail link.

Its report said: “Everywhere we went, we heard from local leaders what they were doing to help their communities grasp that HS2 is more than a railway… we would like to challenge the government to demonstrate similar leadership.

“As was so successful with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we want a dedicated minister to be appointed to lead regeneration and development around HS2 at the national level.

“They should be supported by a team that has the capacity and skills to support local authorities in negotiating their way around Whitehall and in developing and delivering HS2 growth strategies.”


9am: Morning - and HS2 is dominating the headlines again today. A key body has urged the teaching of HS2-specific courses at university technical colleges.

The Lord Deighton chaired High Speed 2 Growth Taskforce, created last summer to advise the government how to maximise the benefits of the rapid rail link, filed its latest report this morning.

It warned that significant gaps existed between the skill levels of the current construction workforce and those required to create HS2.

The report said: “We need to attract more people into rail and engineering careers to meet the HS2 skills challenge, and to do this we must tap into our vocational education system, including university technical colleges.

“To ensure we are supporting and fully exploiting the UTC network, the government should challenge HS2 Ltd and UTCs to develop curriculum options that train more people in the skills needed for HS2 and to establish formal links and partnerships with the new HS2 Skills College by the time it opens.”

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