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Rule Britannia?

Olympic delivery partner - Britishness seems to have helped the CLM consortium to win the coveted job of delivering the London 2012 Olympics.

The British construction industry breathed a collective sigh of relief last month when CLM, the consortium of programme manager CH2M Hill, Laing O'Rourke and Mace, won the job of building the London 2012 games.

The strongly Anglo avoured team beat US giant Bechtel to become the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) delivery partner in a battle that finally came down to cost.

'What would it have said about the British construction industry if we couldn't assemble a team to build the Olympics?' asked one British industry gure.

'Especially as we already have an Australian [ODA chief executive David Higgins] and American [ODA chairman Jack Lemley] in charge.' It is clear that British consultants and contractors hoping to win a role in the task are pleased to have 'friendly' UK faces to deal with.

Chris Cole, chief executive of UK-based engineering firm WSP, sums up the feeling: 'It is a good British decision. We are very happy with the selection of CLM; it is much better than Bechtel. With Bechtel we might not have done very well.' Cole adds that Mace and Laing O'Rourke are major colleagues and clients of WSP on a number of projects.

'Mace we work with in the Middle East and UK, and Laing O'Rourke is a major company we work with ? probably the most active company.' In reality of course it is far from being a British bulldog.

CLM is chaired by Laing O'Rourke boss Ray O'Rourke, an Irishman, and headed by CH2M Hill's Ron Brooks, an American who enjoys the titles of chief executive and programme director. It played down its American connections during the bidding process.

But the message from Higgins and Lemley as they unveiled the winner of the $180M-plus (ú100M-plus) contract was that the 'Britishness' of CLM's bid had counted.

Lemley even took the opportunity to launch into a ve minute speech on the strengths of British construction, exasperated after being asked yet another question drawing comparisons with the ill-fated Wembley Stadium project in London.

'The British construction and engineering industry doesn't deserve the rap that it is getting for Wembley, ' said Lemley.

'There is a litany of successful projects on show at the moment, and Wembley was unique in its problems, a one off.' Between them, the three CLM ms have experience at five previous Olympic games ? Turin 2006, Athens 2004, Salt Lake City 2002, Sydney 2000 and Atlanta 1996 ? and are working on Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010.

But Bechtel, G3 (Amec, Balfour Beatty and Jacobs), and Legacy (Bovis Lend Lease/KBR/ Capita Symonds) also had previous Olympic experience. What really seemed to count in CLM's favour were its constituent rms' UK successes.

Heathrow airport's Terminal 5 has consistently loomed large as an exemplar. Like rival bidder G3's Balfour Beatty and Amec, Laing O'Rourke and Mace had both worked on the London airport building.

This $7.5bn project is on course to be delivered in 2008, nine months ahead of time, and on budget.

It was a project visited by Higgins and Lemley soon after they joined the ODA in January. Its successful use of the New Engineering Contract (NEC) inspired them to scrap procurement of a project manager for the Olympic Park.

They focused on the NEC's partnership ethos and elected to appoint an experienced delivery partner that could hold its hand as a newly established client.

Over and above its T5 achievements, Laing O'Rourke was also able to demonstrate its impressive track record in delivering sports stadia and developments.

These include the $50.5M grandstand at Ascot racecourse, England, which opened on time and to budget in June.

The fact that Laing O'Rourke sponsored the London 2012 bid would not have harmed either.

CLM was thus able to demonstrate its commitment not just to British constructing excellence but to London 2012 itself.

So what happens next?

CH2M Hill's Brooks says: 'The first thing we have to do now is talk in great detail to establish the highest priority action items.

The critical thing is to get the planning [for the park] and to get the programme correct.' It is understood that a 60strong team has already been mobilised.

That team will contain major players from each of CLM's constituent firms.

Alongside Brooks and O'Rourke, CH2M Hill international group president Bob Card will become CLM's deputy programme manager for planning and integration and Laing O'Rourke T5 construction director Steve Cork will become deputy programme director for delivery.

Mace infrastructure director Mark Reynolds has been appointed deputy programme director.

Mace in particular is seconding a number of its key players to the project for the next five years. Its director Gary France is CLM's head of programme planning.

His colleague and Mace head of risk management Phil Brown will now dedicate his time to the same role at CLM.

A Mace spokesman says the firm is confident the loss of such big- hitters with considerable experience at Heathrow would not damage its chances of successfully bidding for $2.8bn redevelopment of the airport's Terminal 2.

'Mark [Reynolds] does get involved in work for BAA, but there are a number of people that have grown up on T5 and will be able to carry on the work we have done there to Terminal 2.' Now CLM's top posts have been led, the delivery partner ranks are predicted to swell to as much as 250 once construction of the Olympic Park is in full swing in 2008.

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