26 April 2001 | Robin Parker
The construction industry will set up a new advisory group on improving supplier relations after financial problems spelt the end for its predecessor.
The Construction Industry Board (CIB) floundered on continuing objections from the Confederation of Construction Clients (CCC) over its funding.
Last year's proposed restructuring, which would have given construction suppliers and customers closer involvement with major industry initiatives and partnerships, was rejected by the CCC.
The confederation, an alliance of the 11 of industry's biggest clients, including Defence Estates, Railtrack and BAA, objected to requests for up to £50,000 from each shareholder.
CIB shareholders, which include supplier bodies the Construction Products Association and the Constructors Liaison Group, will have the new forum in place by June, although a name and precise structure for the new organisation have yet to be determined.
"We could in theory have kept the CIB going with other clients, but we wanted to keep the CCC and felt it would not be viable in its current form without them," Don Ward, CIB's chief executive, told SM.
Since its creation in 1995, the CIB has been effective in implementing the recommendations of the Latham report, said Tony Pollington, executive secretary of the CCC. But he argued that the board had completed the task, suggested by the report, of formulating partnerships between suppliers.
"It is possible to carry forward high-level collaborative liaison on strategy matters without the need for up-front cash contributions," Pollington said.
"Clients pay for all industry activity through their employment of suppliers and do not see why they should have to pay extra for the privilege of talking to them."
He suggested that these strategic options, such as levels of investment and industrial training, should be the subject of occasional collaborative meetings chaired by the relevant ministers, rather than adopting the formal structure of the CIB.