Report from Vice-President, Ant Burd
Well, I can report that it’s been an exciting, and very busy, couple of months for me. It all started when I received the news from CABE HQ that my nomination to become your Vice-President (VP) had been successful. I’ve had the privilege of working with the Association and the members ever since I started work overseeing the fire safety part of the then English and Welsh Building Regulations.
It was back in 1998 that I left Building Control to become one of a team of technical officials tasked with advising government on how we should develop our national Building Regulations, and supporting guidance. It was plainly obvious to me then, as it is to this day, that so much expertise resides in the Association membership that, going forward, we couldn’t develop and implement such important statutory guidance without their insight, technical understanding and support.
That was the start of the relationship that saw me become a member of the Association in 2002. So, leap forward 15 years and goodness only knows how many regional and national meetings, workshops and events, and I now have the privilege and the honour to be one of your VPs. Thank you to those of you that supported my nomination, and I really do look forward to working even more closely with you all in taking forward the important work of the Association.
Right, enough of that – what else has been happening lately? As observed by Gavin Dunn in his VP report last month I must admit my business life, Association activity and professional interests do also tend to meld into one, and so what follows is just a few of the things I’ve been up to.
At Ecobuild this year I ended up on a discussion panel, chaired by the BBC correspondent Roger Harribin, tasked with setting out our views on the challenges and opportunities surrounding Brexit. I was joined on the panel by senior representatives of construction products manufacturers, builders, property developers and even former Building Regulations Minister, Lord Foster of Bath. It was a lively discussion in which we each had to offer our views of Brexit, and mine focused around the issue of standardisation.
For the last three years now I’ve been heading up the built environment sector at BSI, with my team supporting our all-important committee members who develop and contribute to national and international standards. It’s fair to say Brexit is a significant issue for standardisation in the built environment sector. Currently, Britain has full membership of CEN and CENELEC – the two European standards organisations – through BSI. European standards have to be implemented (adopted) identically in 34 countries by their national standards bodies. Any conflicting national standards have to be withdrawn, leaving a single standard across Europe. This is known as the ‘single standard model’. British experts have considerable influence over European standards because of Britain’s membership of CEN and CENELEC. If Britain’s membership of CEN and CENELEC were to end, that influence would be lost. British industry would either have to use two standards regimes – British and European – or carry on using European standards alone with no influence in shaping their content. For those reasons, BSI wishes to continue its full membership of CEN and CENELEC post-Brexit. Both are private organisations and membership is not contingent on EU membership. Accordingly, there should be no obstacle in theory to Britain maintaining the single standards model post-Brexit. More information can be found here about standards policy on the UK leaving the EU –https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/about-bsi/uk-national-standards-body/EUReferendum/#In April, I attended the CABE Awards Panel, which is chaired by our Patron, The Earl of Lytton. The Awards Panel is the forum in which we consider, discuss and recommend to the Board those who should be recognised for their invaluable work in our industry and in support of the Association. It is also this Panel that considers those entries for the CABE Building Awards, in various disciplines such as fire safety and sustainability. In the same way we recognise those particular individuals that do so much for our industry, we should do the same for our buildings. If you have been involved in a building that you feel deserves to be recognised then please do consider making a submission – https://www.cbuilde.com/the-cabe/awards/
In May, it was time for me to head down west to join the CABE buildeng South west team once again for their annual conference. As per normal they put on a great event, with an interesting and diverse line up of speakers seeing them secure a record number of attendees once more. It is so important to get out into the regions and year on year, Rob Gary, Trevor Jacklin and the team put on one of the best I’ve had the privilege to attend. The event was opened by our President, in which Ben provided some insight as to what he has been up to in his busy Presidential year.
He was followed thereafter by our very own Kevin Blunden. Kevin stepped in at very short notice and provided a presentation on Legislation and the future of Building Control as the senior government official was unable to attend due to the General Election having being announced, and thus having entered the period of ‘purdah’.
The pre-election period ‘purdah’ started on Friday 21 April and will continue until the General Election on Thursday 08 June. During this time essential government business continues; however, discretion will be observed in initiating and communicating any new policies or other longer term action. Hence, in this time you won’t be seeing, let alone hearing, from many government officials. At the time of writing the manifestos of each of the political parties hadn’t been published; however, no doubt Brexit, housing, skills and maybe even zero carbon will feature in one or more of them. We will just have to wait and see.
Right, that’s it from me for now. Later this month I go off to CABE HQ and undertake my training on how to be a Board member and, of course, on 19 May we have the inauguration of our new President: step forward, David Taylor. On that day, I also look forward to saying a huge thank you and well done to our outgoing President, Ben Bradford, for all that he has done. Thereafter, I look forward to supporting David in his Presidential year, and getting out a bit more on Association business.
In the meantime, enjoy the start of summer, and the arrival of a new Government that will no doubt have its own thoughts on our all-important industry. I look forward to reporting again in a couple of months.
Ant Burd BSc(Hons) C.BUILD E FCABE MIFireE FRICS