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Construction essential for economy, says new CPA chair

Published:  27 April, 2010

LONDON: Speaking to an audience of more than 450 senior industry leaders and government officials at the Construction Products Association's 10th Annual Lunch at the Dorchester Hotel in London today, Bill Bolsover, the newly-elected chairman, said that despite the current difficulties faced by the construction industry, it had a crucial part to play in the country's economic recovery.

Following the sharpest fall in construction output in 35 years, Mr Bolsover said: "Although companies could simply downsize their businesses and hope government spending cuts are not as bad as we fear, this is not the attitude that over many generations has led the construction industry to create some of our most impressive buildings and most valuable infrastructure."

Mr Bolsover told his audience that the justification for that investment was just as compelling today in order to:

*  'Ensure the economic recovery created a more balanced economy with less dependence on financial services and a larger role for manufacturing and construction.

* Deliver the large scale investment needed in our energy supply and distribution to ensure the lights really don't go out.

* Address the problems of a transport infrastructure that is creaking even in recession and which needs a long-term investment programme to bring us in line with transport infrastructure in other major economies with which our businesses compete.

* Increase the level of housebuilding beyond not just what has been provided in the last two years, but in the last two decades, so as to accommodate the forecast increase of more than four million in the population of this country between 2008 and 2018.

He went on to state he was confident that: "When this Association celebrates its 20th anniversary, we will look back on the current decade as fondly as many do to the early years of the last decade. The next 10 years will bring:

* Opportunities that continue to arise from the £16bn Crossrail  project – one of the most spectacular urban rail systems anywhere in the world.

* Benefits from delivering the most significant programme for the supply and distribution of energy that the country has experienced since the arrival of North Sea Gas.

* New roles many companies will play in developing and delivering a state of the art High Speed Rail Network.

* Engagement in a programme to refurbish 26 million existing homes and 2 million other buildings to ensure we meet our 2050 carbon commitments – a programme that it is estimated to involve spending on construction of about £10bn a year for 40 years.

Outlining his own manifesto as chairman of the Association, Mr Bolsover said he wanted to "continue to motivate the industry to go out and sell what it has to offer; to provide public and private sector clients with solutions to the challenges and opportunities they face and to deliver the 10%-30% cost savings that are achievable.

He added that CPA "must raise the product manufacturers and suppliers higher up the ladder of influence in the construction industry.

"Construction does not exist without the materials and products that come together to make the projects that designers create, and the contractors and specialist put together. The importance of the products within this partnership has become even more important with the drive towards a low carbon economy."

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