As per the report in Construction News in December 2014 titled “Politicians dress for battle” For many politicians, the impulse to pick up a hard hat was overwhelming this year as construction sites became the go-to destinations for senior figures from all the main political parties. Please see full story below from CN Plus along with images of David Cameron with our APL Machines.
A general election is looming, of course, so politicians are keen to be seen promoting long-term investments in our nation’s future. The government turned to social media for its Building Britain Campaign, encouraging people to tweet pictures of themselves and their teams on sites around the country. You couldn’t move for site selfies”.
David Cameron riffed on this theme, talking about the measures his government was putting in place to “help the construction industry build Britain’s future”. The Prime Minister spoke to Construction News in May during a visit to a Balfour Beatty Site and insisted that his party’s long-term plan on infrastructure was working.
He was also quick to promote the benefits of High Speed 2 – the mega-rail projec that turned from an “if” into a “when” in 2014.
Further support for infrastructure was demonstrated by the bold announcement of High Speed 3 in October, before HS2 had even begun construction. Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were growing increasingly confident and turned up at sites to do much hand-waving and “shovel ready” eulogising.
Mr Osbourne promised yet more investment, at almost 100 priority road schemes were set out in the new Road Investment Strategy. Alongside this, the government committed to spending on energy and housing schemes. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that a general election was just six months away. the other prominent Conservative politician to hog his share of the headlines was the mayor of London. Boris Johnson kept backing his controversial “Boris Island” airport scheme in the Thames Estuary, even after it was rejected by Howard Davies’ commission and he had announced that he would be standing as an MP in Uxbridge, where huge numbers of jobs on depend on Heathrow.
Mr Johnson beat the drum for London throughout the year, unveiling a £1.3 tn intrastructure plan for capital in June an pushing ahead on Crossrail 2, revealing a preferred route for the scheme in October.
He was also not shy when it came to visiting sites for the first Crossrail scheme, associating himself with the project’s successful delivery date (the chancellor and prime minister also took credit), and his populist streak shone thorugh as he backed skateboarders in their dispute over the rentention of a skatepark in the planned redevelopment of the Southbank.
He capped his year off by brandishing a brick at the Conservative Parth Conference, telling the brick that it would not be alone as 1bn more would be needed to building Lonodon’s new homes – and he insisted they woudl not be sold to “oligarchs from the planet Zog”.
The leader of the opposition wasn’t immune to construction’s charms either. Ed Miliband promised that he also had a plan for infrastructure and that he was “determined” to meet his party’s target of building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 – following his callin 2013 for housing developers to “use it or lose it” on land they owned.
He also spoke to Construction News to warn of the impact that leaving the EU would have on industry, saying that it threatened infrastructure investment.
The more immediate threat to the UK in 2014, though, came from Scotland’s near exit. The question of Scottish independance loomed over the country for most of 2014, with many construction companies fearing independance would be bad for business.
Of course, the Scots voted no, the Queen purred down the phone to the PM, and the UK remained intact – although increased devolution, not just for Scotland but for other regions of the UK too, is now on the cards.
With the election just months away, the industry will hope that construction remains in vogue for the long term adn that infrastructure is not just being used for short-term political gain.