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Trade divisions stunt CIB efforts says Merricks

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY Board deputy chairman Tony Merricks this week lashed out at trade association bosses, branding them outdated, divisive and lacking in leadership.

His extraordinary outburst came during his final speech as deputy chairman at the CIB annual conference. Speaking to a packed room of industry chiefs, Merricks tore into the bosses of the CIB's member organisations, many of whom were in the audience.

'All too often they take a brief or more likely have a pre-meeting to absorb pre-digested information which is then regurgitated at the meetings under the supervision of lawyers. Where is the leadership in that?' he blasted.

Merricks claimed that four years on from Sir Michael Latham's industry review, trade associations were still putting their own interests above those of the industry as a whole. Agreement between bodies remained difficult and their full support was still not being given to the CIB.

'The divides that we create in trade associations are false, and do not serve the industry well,' he said, adding that each feared diminution of power and did not want to relinquish their traditionally combative roles.

'Our young people want to engineer and build - they don't want constant aggression. If you accept the role as representing the industry then represent its will and its vision. Don't let that be blunted by the keepers of history,' he said.

But Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts hit back at the assault. Speaking on Monday he said: 'Tony Merricks was significantly out of order in turning the occasion from a consultative conference into a frustrated deputy chairman's exile speech.

'I never heard him mention any of these concerns before and I find the fact that he has waited until he is getting out fairly disingenuous.'

Construction Confederation chief executive Ian Deslandes was equally dismissive: 'I think the attack was targeted at us and the CIC but it was way off beam. It is seriously underestimating the abilities of the CC bosses.'

Matthew Jones

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