24 Nov 2017

Lee Drury of Drury Joinery Services has won an award for his work with apprentices at the European Vocational Skills Week Awards on 24th November 2017. Please see press release below: –

Lee Drury

Gedling Business wins Prestigious Award for its Work With Apprentices

A small Gedling business has won a prestigious European Award for its work with apprentices. Drury Joinery Services Limited picked up the award in the micro companies sector at the closing event of the EU Vocational Skills Week in Brussels, on Friday 24th November. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships, whose award it is, received nominations from all over the European Union. In her remarks, Marianne Thyssen a senior representative of the European Commission noted the excellent practice in developing apprentices in the best traditions of one-to-one training.

Owner Lee Drury said, “!’m delighted to receive the recognition for over 15 years of working with young people, I see it as my contribution to them and the industry”. Lee was the only UK Winner from 12 categories that seek to recognise excellent work in vocational education and training, particularly apprenticeships.

Drury Joinery Services Limited is a small family business based in Gedling, a suburb of Nottingham, it has supported 8 apprentices in the past, all of who went on to work successfully in the industry. Lee is currently employing his ninth Ben Baguley, he hopes to follow the others and become a qualified Joiner. He said, “It’s great to see Lee get his award, I know that I’m going to learn a lot from him”. Those administering the awards noted Lee’s attention to detail in training and that he was also preparing them for self-employment to run their own business.

Lee came to the attention of local business NGi (UK) Limited who nominated him through their work with Gedling Borough Council. The council is working on an innovative international project to encourage small and medium sized businesses to take on an apprentice. Lee attended some specialist training offered by the council and contributed positively to the programme by offering practical suggestions based on his experience. Director Graham Wood said, “Lee brought a wealth of practical knowledge to our training that greatly improved the experience of his peers. We decided to learn more about him and his work, which convinced us we should nominate him for the award.”

Julie Beresford, Economic Growth Officer who manages the international project on behalf of Gedling Borough Council said, “We’re delighted for Lee, he represents why young apprentices can benefit enormously from working with small companies. As part of our strategy we seek to encourage and support where we can a small business to take on an apprentice.”


Marianne Thyssen is the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, as such she is the senior representative for that Directorate General of the European Commission.

The European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) is a unique platform which brings together governments with other key stakeholders, like businesses, social partners, chambers, vocational education and training (VET) providers, regions, youth representatives or think tanks. The common goal is to strengthen the quality, supply and image of apprenticeships in Europe, and more recently mobility of apprenticeships has also emerged as an important topic.

The EU Vocational Skills Week is an annual event operated by the European Commission that seeks to highlight best practice in vocational education and training. It promotes contributions by business employers, apprentices and those involved in training and teaching them.

Apprenticeships as one successful form of work-based learning ease the transition from education and training to work, and evidence suggests that countries with a strong VET and apprenticeship system have lower levels of youth unemployment.


21 Nov 2017

CITB gets it, but does the rest of construction?

20 NOVEMBER, 2017

Paul Morrell the former government chief construction adviser who was an adviser to the government steering group which reviewed the CITB thoughts are set out below: –

The response to the government review of the CITB, on which I advised, shows the CITB gets it!

Specifically, that it understands that the positive result of consensus and of the review are not so much the end of a process, as the beginning of a much more challenging one – with scarcely a moment for a sigh of relief.

One question, however, is whether the industry gets it too. There is no doubt that the CITB has lost its way over the years, growing so far beyond its original purpose that the purpose itself has got lost in the mist.

The consequence is that an industry that finds it hard to lead but easy to blame, blames the CITB for everything. It is, for example, no more the fault of the CITB that there is a shortage of bricklayers now, than that there was a surplus of them when the housing market collapsed in 2009. These constantly recurring imbalances are part cyclical and part structural.

Structural failure

To the extent that they are cyclical, it is no more use railing against that than to rail against gravity. The structural matters are, however, both the evidence and the result of market failure. In a fragmented industry with a diverse and cyclical workload, the rewards for having a skilled workforce are too remote and too indirect to motivate investment.

Addressing that market failure is the purpose of the statutory levy, and it is frankly astonishing that, having contributed to it, the industry gives so little thought as to how it should be spent to best effect.

The critical need now, therefore, is for the industry, as an act of leadership, to provide and agree the vision of how the levy might be used to gather regional market intelligence at one end of the process; how developments in IT, offsite fabrication etc, might change the nature of skills needed in the future; and how people can be attracted into the industry and trained up for those future needs.

Government will expect something better than our current pitch of demanding more spending and a waiver from any restriction on the free movement of labour.

The role of the Construction Leadership Council in bringing the industry together to agree with the CITB what this adds up is critical. But it must also involve the trade associations – or at least, those who put equipping their members to make an honest living above protectionism. There should also be a proper representation of the breadth of the industry on the CITB board and council, and in government.

As Brexit simultaneously increases the need for productive infrastructure and undermines our ability both to build and pay for it, the government will expect the industry to come up with something better than its current pitch of demanding more infrastructure spending and a waiver from any restriction on the free movement of labour – including how we plan to build capacity over the next five or 10 years.

Standing up for ourselves

As part of owning the vision for the levy, the industry must be prepared to stand up to free riders and to those who pay the levy then apply all of their energies to getting it back again. Clearly no market failure is resolved  particularly in building a training fund for smaller companies from the contribution of larger ones if everyone gets their own money back.

The CITB can then focus on meeting an agreed core purpose, confident that it will be judged against proper strategic targets, rather than trying to please everyone by demonstrating that funds have been distributed fairly.

The chances of being judged positively will then be substantially enhanced if the CITB adds to its six published objectives a seventh: a programme of major internal cultural reform, replacing the sense of wading through organisational treacle, with a service culture focused on customers.

That is a particular challenge when many of those that the CITB serves don’t actually want to be its customers. But without bringing about that transformation, I fear the other six objectives will not be deliverable. The idea that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a cliche for a reason: it’s true.


09 Nov 2017

Lee Drury of Drury Joinery Services has been has been selected for the European Alliance for Apprenticeships Award 2017.

Our congratulations to Lee for being one of just 5 nominees from across the European Union. This recognises the fantastic work that Lee has done in employing, training and developing apprentices over the last 20 years.

Lee will find out whether he has won on the 24th November


30 Oct 2017

UK construction enters recession amid warning of “biggest financial crisis in 30 years”


The UK construction industry is officially in recession now having contracted for the second quarter in row according to the latest figures from the country’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The data was released as the head of an influential construction supply chain body warned of the “biggest financial crisis in 30 years” as subcontractors face possible non-payment by struggling major contractors such as Carillion and Interserve.

Construction output decreased by 0.7% during the third quarter of 2017 (July to September), following a fall of 0.5% from April to June, the ONS revealed last week.

The dip occurred against the backdrop of better-than-expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 0.4% in the UK economy at large during the third quarter.

ONS data earlier this month for the sector for the three months to August showed construction output slipped by 0.8% compared with the previous quarter, driven by declines in new work and repair as well as maintenance activity.

Also last week came a stark warning about subcontractors getting ensnared in the cash crises affecting big firms such as Carillion and Interserve.

Chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group, Rudi Klein, told industry magazine Building that the pair’s troubles mean the industry is “facing possibly the biggest financial crisis I have seen in 30 years”.

He said subcontractors should be on high alert. “I would advise them to be looking out for signs such as slow payment processes and an increase in contra charges,” he said.

The UK’s second-largest contractor Carillion last month revealed pretax losses of £1.15bn ($1.5bn) in the first half of 2017. That followed the shock revelation in July that an £845m hole had opened in its finances as it made provisions to cover a suite of problem contracts.

Another major contractor, Interserve, dropped a bombshell earlier this month when it warned it may breach its banking covenants for the year after admitting it will have to lay aside nearly £200m in provisions for a string of problem energy-from-waste jobs.

The highly fragmented nature of the UK construction industry in which main contractors subcontract most work to specialists means the supply chain is vulnerable when the main contractors run into difficulty.

“My advice to them would be to chase every penny at the earliest convenience and make sure payments are made on time,” Rudi Klein said. “In a situation like this, if you are waiting 120 days for a contractor to pay you, then you could end up in dire straits.”

Klein also complained that not enough was being done to fix the problems at Carillion and Interserve. “The industry finds itself in an extremely unhealthy place. There appears to be a lack of leadership around how it can address this crisis”

Image: Construction output decreased by 0.7% during the third quarter of 2017 (July to September), following a fall of 0.5% from April to June, the ONS revealed (ONS)


27 Oct 2017

Willmott Dixon has landed an £11m contract from Nottingham City Homes and Nottingham City Council to build a high-rise retirement village in Sherwood.

WD Sherwood

Winwood Heights will see the company’s housing specialists create 224 homes for Nottingham people over 55.

Work will involve construction of a new extra care apartment facility and modernising two 15-storey tower blocks.

The company will build a new 44 home extra care scheme in between the two existing blocks allowing resident to live independently, but provide flexible care as their needs increase over time.

Nick Murphy, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes, said that the transformation of the tower blocks in Sherwood will offer huge benefits to our existing tenants and to many more older residents in the future, thanks to the construction of the extra care apartments and facilities. It will offer flexible care and support to enable older residents to continue to live independently.

Simon Leadbeater, managing director at Willmott Dixon responsible for housing in the Midlands, said: As one of the UK’s largest builders of retirement accommodation, with a long established presence in Nottingham, we are delighted to be involved in creating Winwood Heights. Our local team is looking forward to delivering modern new homes that will benefit thousands of people in Nottingham for many generations.


29 Aug 2017

Construction News has likened the current consensus vote on the CITB’s future to the EU referendum.

A binary vote with two distinct camps: those wanting to maintain the status quo, or a reformed status quo, against those who wanted to break away from the way things had been done for decades.

Yet there is one area that the two votes so far differ.

When the UK went to the polls last year, 72 per cent of registered voters turned out, the highest since the 1992 general election.

So far the turnout for the CITB consensus hasn’t garnered the same level of response.

Build UK has told Construction News responses to its survey, which opened on 4 July, have so far fallen short of expectations. This might be due to the time of year  it’s holiday season after all.

But the group, which represents the UK’s biggest construction firms and specialists, is keen for its members to engage.

This has been supported by a number of other consensus bodies, with the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the British Woodworking Federation and Finishes and Interiors Federation all calling on their members to get involved and have their say on the CITB’s future.

NFDC chief executive Howard Button said it was essential the vote carried proper industry representation. And CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner emphasised the importance of all firms taking the opportunity to have their say.

The choice voters will be given is on whether to scrap the levy, thereby ending the CITB.

Or, the alternative: pay a reduced levy of 0.35 per cent on PAYE employees.

But the window to vote is getting smaller.

Build UK’s consensus window will close on 4 September. CECA, meanwhile, is engaging with members and will hand responses to the CITB next month.

The Home Builders Federation will also be sending out letters to members for responses in the coming weeks.

The NFDC will launch a postal vote in the first week of September, while the Finishes and Interiors Federation opens voting for members on the 4 September for a three-week period.

The CITB is also currently carrying out the surveying of 6,000 non-federation affiliated firms to have their say, with this process coming to a close next month.

To CITB, or not to CITB: that is the question, but the industry seemingly needs a lot more answers.

If you have a view on the CITB, good or bad, it is imperative you voice it and cast your vote.

The clock is ticking, make sure that you vote!

05 Jul 2017


Over 50 year 9 and year 10 students from Arnold Hill Academy and Carlton-le-Willows Academy took part in the Construction Challenge held on Tuesday 4th July 2017 at Arnold Hill, undertaking a range of “taster” sessions in bricklaying, carpentry and painting and decorating tasks during the morning then taking part in the “Challenge” in their chosen trades in the afternoon.


Michael Shepherd of Carlton-le-Willows was selected as the overall winner for the quality of his Painting and Decorating in the “Challenge” and his overall performance in the morning “taster” sessions. He received a trophy and a £25 tools voucher from Robert Samson, Chair of Frank Key Group


Ethan Gatherar of Carlton-le-Willows was chosen as the Bricklaying winner, and received a trophy and a £25 tools voucher

Dalton Carwood of Arnold Hill was chosen as the Carpentry winner, and received a trophy and a £25 tools voucher

Olivia Hopkin of Arnold Hill was chosen as the Painting and Decorating winner, and received a trophy and a £25 tools voucher

Katie Sharpe, Isaac Thorne and Thomas Hankin of Arnold Hill and Charlie Mitchell and Billy Mitchell of Carlton-le-Willows were commended for their overall performance during the Construction Challenge. They all received a tool prize from Robert Samsom.

Many thanks to everyone who supported the event; Adam Kelly, Terry Brickles, Neil Walker, Steve Wilson, Dave Singh, Richard Walker and Robert Samson.

16 May 2017

New homes and a new old link along Arkwright Walk

Regeneration continues along Arkwright Walk after a historic through route was re-established in the area. Arkwright Walk follows the course of the old Arkwright Street, closed as a through route during the 1970s. This was previously blocked by a garden, and the Council has worked with Crocus Fields children’s centre to change the boundaries and create a new through route. This opened in February and has quickly become popular, reconnecting the city centre and station to Trent Bridge in the south.

The Council has cleared a number of sites along Arkwright Walk in preparation for the delivery of new homes for sale which will enhance this new route and provide homes to suit a range of different needs.  The Council is working with developers Keepmoat Homes to try to bring this forward in the near future.

New BioCity Discovery building opens its doors

You might have seen the new BioCity Discovery building – especially if passing it at night. That’s because of ‘Corona,’ a brise soleil on the front of the building linked to 2 NASA satellites which monitor the surface of the sun for solar flare activity. This energy is then expressed through an ever changing fibre optic lighting system which reflects the sun’s activity in real time on the facade of the building. The colours will evolve and transform over a 26 ½ day period – the time it takes the sun to rotate on its axis.

The sculpture, created by world renowned and Nottingham based artist Wolfgang Buttress and Dr. Martin Bencsik from Nottingham Trent University, adorns the new £30 million BioCity building built by Nottingham City Council and leased to BioCity to support their work. The new building will host Sygnature Discovery across three floors, who have outgrown their initial incubator space in the existing BioCity building and allow more space for new life science starts ups, cementing Nottingham’s reputation as a leading city in supporting life science growth.

New homes in Strelley just the start

Nottingham City Homes, in partnership with Nottingham City Council, has built 79 new high quality Council homes in the last year. This number include 12 flats, 11 bungalows and 25 family houses on the site of the former Cranwell Road flats in Strelley. It also includes several smaller developments which have brought former garage block sites back into use. These new properties bring better quality housing to tenants in the city, and plans are afoot to bring more new Council housing to Nottingham.

Work has also recently begun in Strelley to redevelop the older persons’ flats and the library on Strelley Road as part of a wider effort to build more council homes in the city. 245 are planned for the next year, including 45 new houses and 9 new bungalows on the old Q Blocks site of the Meadows as the council reinvigorates its housing stock.

City Council working with Island Site owners

Following the announcement of the sale of the Island Site in December, Nottingham City Council has been talking to new owners Lavignac and Conygar about plans to bring forward development.

In January 2016, as part of its push to bring forward redevelopment, the council developed a Supplementary Planning Document to guide the type of development deemed appropriate for the site and for Nottingham.  The Council also undertook a number of studies to determine the state of the site, access, roads and other infrastructure.  These have now been shared with the new owners and their planners and architects who are working with the council’s planning and urban design teams to develop more detailed planning briefs for various parts of the site.

These include innovative and exciting ideas for the site, including re-using the heritage warehouses, and for a range of different, complementary uses across the site, creating a new residential and commercial neighbourhood as part of the city centre.

Work to start on Trent Basin Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Trent Basin development is to start this summer and has been boosted by additional funding. £1.25 million will be spent on a new spine road linking Trent Lane to Poulton Drive, accelerating  delivery of 500 new homes.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing for Nottingham City Council, said: “This City Council is successfully forging ahead with many new housing schemes and is committed not just to building new homes, but good quality, energy efficient homes. This development is especially important, creating a new community in a riverside location on a brownfield site close to the city centre.

“This funding enables us to connect attractive homes in an in-demand area with main routes into and around Nottingham, including our new Eco Expressway. Spending on this crucial infrastructure is important so that residents in this new community feel part of a growing and innovative city.”