The value of consideration

John McCann discusses why the industry should continue to strive for ‘neighbourliness’

In 1994, Tory MP Sir Michael Latham was commissioned by the Government and industry organisations to review procurement and contractual arrangements in the UK construction industry, aiming to tackle controversial issues facing the industry during a period of lapse in growth as a whole.

The Latham Report, ‘Constructing the Team’ didn’t hold back. Condemning existing industry practices as ‘adversarial’, ‘ineffective’, ‘fragmented’, ‘incapable for delivering for its clients’, and ‘lacking respect for its employees’, it was time for construction to dig itself out of the hole it had created.

As a result of the report’s damning conclusions, the Construction Industry Council formed the ‘Latham Review Implementation Forum’, with one of the member groups focusing on the need to improve the image of the industry. And so the Considerate Constructors Scheme was born.

By 1996 a steering group took over the implementation of thisnew scheme and developed the Code of Considerate Practice. They also decided on the general principles that the scheme would aim to achieve. These were: to form a voluntary scheme founded on encouragement, which would work with construction companies’ sites to improve their relationship with their neighbours, the general public and the environment; that the scheme should carry out inspections of registered sites and report on and mark them against the eight key areas listed in the Code of Considerate Practice, and finally to reward the best performing sites.

In 1997, responsibility for the implementation of the Scheme was given to the Institute of Building who recruited Doug Goodsir as General Manager. The pilot Scheme that followed refined the plan and fleshed out the working details. The scheme was officially launched in June 1997 registering 75 sites and recruiting four monitors.

Today, the Considerate Constructors Scheme registers and monitors thousands of UK sites, companies and suppliers each year, demonstrating a growing commitment by the industry to continually improve its reputation and be recognised for its cooperative, ‘neighbourly’ practices.

With the launch of the Best Practice Hub last year, whereby anyone in the industry – from site managers to suppliers – can share best practice initiatives to help them meet and exceed the requirements of the Code and achieve a higher score, the scheme has evolved to ‘kite mark’ status within the industry.

At a time when the construction industry has a shortfall of talent, with an estimated 100,000 workers needed to cope with the country’s infrastructure construction demands according to the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills report, as an industry improving our image and demonstrating our ‘neighbourliness’ has never been more important.

A YouGov poll of 2000 members of the public measured perceptions of a number of industries this year, and found that the vast majority would ‘NEVER consider a career in the construction industry’ (67 per cent), with just 17 per cent saying that they would give it a thought. Disturbing news for a company such as ours, which has been successful for nearly half a century thanks to the dedication and quality of our diverse and talented workforce.

The Considerate Construction Scheme plays a vital role in quite literally, ‘laying the foundations’ for the future. Industry mascots Ivor and Honor Goodsite are introducing children and young people to the positive aspects to working in construction through schools and supervised site visits. Honor is aimed at promoting the construction industry as a profession where men and women can work together equally.

But for a company like McCann, being a ‘Considerate Constructor’ offers important additional benefits, and it’s been an intrinsic part of the ethos of our business for decades.

Improvement. It’s what we continually strive for in every aspect of our business – from our relationships with our customers or the general public, to our health and safety standards, processes and procedures. Never complacent, we are always aiming to better ourselves. This is where the scheme’s independent monitors, and more recently its Best Practice Hub, have become invaluable tools in our selfimprovement kit.

Once we’ve registered one of our projects with CCS it would be easy at this point for us to forget the scheme until the monitored visit, as our current internal policies, QAs and procedures actually cover everything that the CCS monitor would cover. Where we benefit most from the system is utilising the Best Practice Hub to see if any of our procedures, ideas etc can be (that word again) improved, simplified or amended in any way to our benefit.

In a marketplace where we strive to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, compliance is simply not enough. The Best Practice Hub, together with the industry knowledge and experience of the independent monitors, and our dedication to the ‘softer skill areas’ such as valuing the workforce and consideration of the wider community, has benefitted each one of our CCS projects enormously. We’re certain being a part of this scheme has contributed to an unprecedented period of growth for the company this year.

For the future, I’m confident the Considerate Construction Scheme will continue in its upward trajectory, particularly as its brand – synonymous with excellence – becomes more and more recognised by the general public. With projects such as Smart motorways and HS2, together with the national housing crisis, the construction industry will be at the forefront of public consciousness for the foreseeable future. It is vital, therefore, that it is seen as an industry that considers, and is considerate of, its impact.

John McCann is MD, J McCann & Co. Ltd. McCann is a leading civil and electrical engineering construction company that operates throughout the UK on major road, rail and airport infrastructure projects for public and private sector clients.

Since its formation some 40 years ago it has developed wide range of specialist contracting services to support the successful delivery of major infrastructure projects throughout the UK. As a leading supplier and installer of street lighting, traffic signs, signals, communication systems and associated civil engineering it can also play a key role in the development of project design and buildability whilst working comfortably within a wide range of contractual arrangements.

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