06 September 2001 | Robin Parker
The national industry body for construction companies has been accused of hindering progress in the renegotiation of the troubled Welsh Assembly building contract.
The accusation came after Robert Firth, the Construction Industry Council's chairman for Wales, warned companies not to submit new bids for the work after the Richard Rogers Partnership was sacked in July.
He branded a dozen architects and developers "unethical" for informing the assembly of their interest in taking over the project and urged them to hold back their bids as the contract will not be advertised officially until early October.
But Tony Pollington, executive secretary of the Confederation of Construction Clients, rejected the accusation as interference.
He told SM: "If a project is going wrong, the client will want the construction to go ahead as soon as possible. The assembly needs to terminate its present agreement and move on."
However, Firth defended his comments. "We simply have not got to the bottom of what went wrong with the terminated contract," he said.
"We don't know precisely why certain costs have been quoted, and Sir Richard himself has expressed confusion and annoyance at these figures."
He warned prospective bidders that until the collapse of the original contract had been fully accounted for, they could not possibly provide the best service. "The original architect is the only person who can guarantee to keep the costs down," Firth said.
But Pollington said apportioning blame was counterproductive to the construction of the assembly building. "It's beyond doubt that the project is over budget," he said. "But the assembly will be more concerned about having their building roughly within the expected timescale."
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly confirmed it had received about a dozen expressions of interest from developers and architects. These would be considered, she said.