Driving to work this morning as the sun rose over the Mendip Hills, the birds are singing and my thoughts turn to longer, warmer days and checking the family’s passports are all up to date. The clock is ticking to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union at the end of the month and Brexit still dominates the news headlines. In my lifetime I have never seen a single issue take up so many political and ministerial man-hours, nor cause so much division and uncertainty. The construction industry has always been the barometer of the economy and it has been particularly hard hit by the fears of not knowing what being out of the EU will look like.
The construction media is rife with scary headlines about delays to public and private sector projects with commercial building being hardest hit. Over half of local authorities are predicted to miss their housebuilding targets, and the whole industry is in danger of stalling as the slowdown in growth reached its lowest levels at the beginning of this year. Industry managers blame a no-deal Brexit for the sharp drop in activity. But whilst confusion reigns in the corridors of power life goes on as normal for the rest of us. I consider myself fortunate that, in my role as Vice-President and board member, I have the opportunity to meet a broad mix of building professionals. The networking opportunities that CABE provides through its regional activities and events are driven by the membership and it was with pleasure that I accepted the invitation to give a short presentation to the attendees at the recent South West regional AGM.
The South West committee, who are pioneers of the buildeng format that has rolled out across the regions, had organised a CPD roadshow to follow the AGM. Having just purchased a ground floor flat in a converted Victorian terraced house, the excellent CPD presentations on waterproofing and tanking systems and timber infestation and fungal attack could not have been more timely for me. So a big thank you to Regional Chairman, Robert Gary, and the regional committee for the added value.
These regional meetings, held locally to you, are the platform where you can find out what is happening at CABE HQ, and to share your thoughts, ideas and aspirations with your peers. Any member can become involved in regional activities and the regional chairs would welcome volunteers to help arrange local CPD events and get together for other business and social activities. I highly recommend that members look at the diary of local events, both in the Journal and on the CABE website and make the most of your membership by engaging with your regions. You never know who you will meet or what you will learn. (And don’t forget to log onto the CABE website to upload your CPD https://www.cbuilde.com/membership/cpd-and-member-conduct/continuing-professional-development/)
Nearly everyone I have spoken to in our industry has embraced the need to change and what interests me most of all is the positivity, optimism and willingness to see the opportunity for wholesale movement towards a better and more effective framework which recognises that our systems need to evolve. We all need to work more collaboratively across the sectors, to build and share our knowledge. CABE is fully supportive of the requirement to demonstrate competency and a huge amount of work is ongoing to review and update how technical competence is measured, both as part of CABE becoming a Licensed Member of the Engineering Council and in response to the recommendations in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.
Mid-February brought us news of another cladding related fire – at the high rise Neo200 apartment building in Melbourne, Australia – a stark reminder that there is still a very long way to go to address the issues raised following Grenfell. Concerns over the safety of cladding on buildings at home and abroad have left deep scars in the reputation of the construction industry and we owe it to the memory of all those who have perished in building fires to prioritise making our built environment safe and to restore the confidence of the public.
My role as CABE’s Diversity Champion is evolving and I am very pleased to represent CABE on the Construction Industry Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Panel and, by the time you read this I will have attended my first meeting with Tony Ginda. It is wonderful to ensure that CABE and our members are represented at this level.
Another exciting invitation dropped into my inbox last month when I was invited to judge this year’s Inspire Awards for Diversity and Inclusion in UK Construction, Engineering and Housing. The purpose of The Inspire Awards is to help inspire a more diverse and inclusive culture in the industry by celebrating those who are leading the way. Which leads me to remind you all that Nominations for CABE Built Environment Awards 2019 are now open. There are five categories – New Build, Maintenance or Refurbishment, Building Safety, Sustainability and Preservation, Conservation or Extension. Entry is open to any organisation, individual or project where there has been substantial involvement of a CABE member and a contribution to the field of Building Engineering in the last twelve months.
If you were involved in, or know of, an exemplary project you think has what it takes, why not visit the CABE website to nominate. If you’re interested in getting aboard, contact your Regional Committee to see how you can help your region. And don’t forget, CABE cares about our members so keep in touch and let the team at HQ know what you need from your professional body.
Wishing you all the best of health and wellbeing.
Jayne Hall BSc (Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE