Paul Morrell, the quantity surveyor named this week as the government’s chief construction adviser, has vowed to keep a “team” of civil engineers on call to help him represent the views of the profession.
In his first interview since taking up the post on Tuesday, Morrell, a former partner at cost consultant Davis Langdon, stressed the importance of civil engineering.
He said he would be looking for “particular expertise” to advise him on that sector. Morrell said that whoever had taken up the construction adviser post would have been lacking in some areas, and that he was already looking at ways to address his own weaknesses.
“Everyone who went for the job will have had gaps because the industry is so broad,” he said.
“But we can’t underestimate civil engineering. I also don’t know the technical aspects of electricity generation or transmission, water supply etcetera, so I will use a panel of people I can call on to cover the whole territory. “There is no subject where there is not someone who knows more than me.”
“Everyone who went for the job will have had gaps”
The ICE and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association welcomed Morrell’s appointment and said they would work with him to tackle the issues facing the industry.
Morrell said his key aims will be to tackle inefficiency and to deliver on the low carbon agenda.
“There are things that are getting in the way of reducing carbon emissions and getting in the way of productivity. I want to find out what these blockages are in relation to government - to go out to listen and form an opinion,” he said.
“Reducing carbon emissions is now written into law, and going forward it will be as important as money. The renewal of infrastructure is instrumental in doing this.”
“The route is to make clear that to stop investing in infrastructure is not a choice without consequences. You damage the economy and the carbon economy.”
Not a part time job
Morrell also admitted his new post would not be a part time job. “I don’t think anyone who applied for the job thought they would do it in three days [as the government initially proposed]. For the next year I am full-time. I’m a workaholic,” he said.
Morrell will chair the Treasury’s construction category strategy board and is adamant that his post is not in competition with the CBI’s year-old Construction Council.
“The job would be impossible without talking to these people. There is no way you can ignore them,” he said.
One of Morrell’s first tasks will be to take over the Innovation & Growth Team strategic review of the construction sector, launched by business secretary Lord Mandelson in September.