TV builder backs scheme to aid the Trades

Celebrity builder Tommy Walsh has welcomed a one-stop-shop to get building trade apprentices blocked from jobs by ‘out-dated’ Government rules into work within weeks rather than years.

The Ground Force star is supporting the pioneering scheme by a Wolverhampton trades school which is also rescuing Britain’s derelict housing stock.

Tommy, aged 57, said: “The Government’s commitment to building 200,000 homes is threatened by skill shortages. But this one-stop-shop idea is exactly what the industry and the economy needs.”

There have been thousands of new construction jobs in the UK this year as builders attempt to meet Government targets – but apprentices who spent years learning to become plumbers, gas fitters, bricklayers and electrician have been missing out because legislation demands that they have 100 hours unpaid practical experience.

Dr Jan Telensky, whose company Engineering Real Results came up with a practical way round the rules, said: “Over the past few years there has been a massive influx of trades people and labourers from the EU, many who are well trained and with excellent skills. They have been able to find work while our own apprentices have been losing out because of the legislation.

“This new scheme, New Vocational Quickstart, involves renovating properties across the country which are either derelict or fallen into disrepair, enables them to get there NVQ in just weeks, instead of years.”

Tommy backed Dr Telensky, whose European-wide business empire is based in Luton, Bedfordshire. He said: “We have plenty of young people ready to build a new life for their families by learning a trade. But they come up against a brick wall because of a lack experience on site.”

The legislation forces newly-qualified tradesman to go cap-in-hand to small builders and beg for unpaid work but they are refused because of complications over insurance.

Engineering Real Results – which was involved in the restoration of an historic factory in All Saints, Wolverhampton – has been buying old houses and flats across the country and now gets students to renovate them which fulfils the demands of the legislation.

Paul Senior, chairman of the National Federation of Builders, also backed the scheme, saying: “Anything to provide training and experience to young construction students is a very good thing. The industry is very dependent on up-to-date skills and experience and we welcome innovative solutions such as Engineering Real Results, but it needs to be sustainable to meet the growing demand for student work placements.”

Courtesy Express & Star

Dr Jan Telensky welcomes Manchester United Youth 2013

Trades News, Contracts and JOBS! Updated 15 July 2013

£198m contract set to deliver hundreds of homes and new jobs in Leeds

Community regeneration specialist Keepmoat has won a £198 million contract to regenerate three areas of inner city Leeds, as part of the first ever PFI scheme awarded to the company.

The landmark scheme will see Keepmoat refurbish 1,245 properties, create 388 new homes and make environmental improvements to the Holbeck, Beeston Hill and Little London areas of the city.

The tender awarded by Leeds City Council and Sustainable Communities for Leeds (sc4L) will create 250 new skilled jobs and boost the building construction industry.

Sc4L was named a preferred bidder back in 2010, but the work funded through a Private Finance Initiative was delayed during the recession. With funding from a recently completed public bond issue now in place, survey teams are expected on site within the next few days and work is due to start in September.

Nick Ash, Regeneration Director at Keepmoat, said: “This scheme will make a huge difference to residents and communities in Leeds.

“As well as transforming large swathes of the inner city, this scheme is economically important for Leeds. It will create hundreds of skilled jobs, as well as giving local young people the chance to do apprenticeships and work experience.”

Keepmoat has been awarded the £145 million construction contract over the next three and a half years and a further £53 million in maintenance and repair contracts over the next 20 years.

Dave Sheridan, Chief Executive of Keepmoat, said: “This contract win is an endorsement of our exceptional track record in successfully transforming communities. As one of Britain’s foremost experts in community regeneration, Keepmoat has proven it can deliver quality and value for money no matter how large or small the scheme.

“We are currently working on a number of other PFI contracts across the UK as we pursue our commitments to improve British communities and deliver regeneration that works.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive member for housing, said: “I am very pleased that we can finally kick-start the project for these communities, who have waited a long time. I want to thank the residents for their continued patience, now is the time to finally deliver results!

“The project brings about a massive regeneration programme for this part of inner city Leeds, along with a boost to employment and the local community.”

Naz Parkar, Head of Area at the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “This is fantastic news for the communities of Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck who will now see their homes refurbished and a further 400 new homes built.”

Tender launch to boost Green Deal contractors

Hull City Council has launched the procurement process to appoint Green Deal partners to deliver energy efficiency improvements to thousands of properties across Hull.

Businesses are invited to become a partner that will deliver structural improvements and external solid wall insulation to approximately 3,250 council properties, alongside improvements to private sector properties either fully funded or through the use of a loan product.

Hull has recently launched a new, exciting and ambitious City Plan with the primary aim of creating 7,500 new jobs and improving income levels, health and skills.

This is an exciting opportunity for organisations to work with a City recently shortlisted as one of four contenders for the 2017 City of Culture.

Councillor Martin Mancey, Portfolio Holder for Energy City, said: “The procurement of the partner is part of the city’s wider City Plan objectives to become a green city as well as creating employment and learning opportunities.

“This is an excellent opportunity for a company to provide significant energy efficient improvements to homes that will reduce energy bills for residents, which in turn helps to tackle fuel poverty.”

The procurement opportunity is published in the Official Journal of the European Union Website TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) and YORtender website, the procurement portal of the Yorkshire and Humber regions.

Hull City Council has an agreement with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council which allows them to access the procured partner. This will widen the geographical area in which the Green Deal Partner could potentially deliver Green Deal measures.

The deadline to submit a completed Pre-Qualification Questionnaire is Wednesday 7 August at 5pm.

To support the process a Market Day for interested parties will take place on Wednesday 17 July at the Hull City Hall. Places are strictly limited and any interested contractors and building organisations should email regenerationteam@hullcc.gov.uk with name, job title, company address and contact telephone number.

Miller kick-starts Birmingham Arena Central scheme

Miller Developments has started work on the first phase of the Arena Central scheme in Birmingham that will see the building of a new 210-bedroom hotel. 

The redevelopment of Birmingham’s Arena Central is well underway, with demolition works clearing the way for the construction of a brand new Holiday Inn Express hotel.

The demolition of a redundant multi-storey car park at the corner of Holliday Street and Bridge Street is the first step towards the construction of the building at Birmingham city centre.

The 14-storey hotel will include an atrium link to the adjacent Crowne Plaza Hotel. Once completed, the Holiday Inn Express will back onto Arena Square, forming a key part of this office-led mixed use scheme.

Jonathan Wallis, Development Director at Miller Developments, said: “Arena Central forms an integral part of Birmingham City Council’s Big City Plan as well as having a prime position within the City Centre Enterprise Zone and I am exceptionally pleased that we have been able to appoint a local company to undertake these works.

“Alongside the development of the hotel, we are working closely with Birmingham City Council to deliver the site’s next commercial building of around 110,000 sq ft, which is planned to sit in a prominent position fronting Broad Street.

“This site is one of the most strategically important locations in the city and our proximity to the Library of Birmingham, the established city core, Brindleyplace and The Mailbox will undoubtedly help to create a fully connected, 21st century location.”

The 9.2 acre Arena Central site is at the heart of Birmingham’s City Centre Enterprise Zone, meaning that it benefits from simplified planning and reduced business rates as well as forming a significant part of the city’s vision for regeneration.

Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, Birmingham City Council, said: “Arena Central is an ambitious mixed-use scheme with a key position in the City Centre Enterprise Zone, to which I give my full support.

“Projects such as this are vital to the on-going redevelopment of Birmingham and with an established central location I believe that Arena Central will be of real interest to a wide variety of occupiers, further boosting the reputation of the city and region as a whole.”

£1.9bn net benefit to improve energy efficiency

Proposals for new energy saving assessments for larger firms in the UK have been published today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

These assessments, required by the new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), will enable companies to identify opportunities to save money on energy bills through improved energy efficiency and could benefit the UK by £1.9 billion.

Under the scheme, which is being developed as part of the UK’s implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, large enterprises will be required to undertake ESOS assessments to identify cost-effective ways to invest in energy efficiency, helping reduce energy bills and increase competitiveness.

Organisations who take up energy efficiency recommendations will face lower energy bills – on average, an enterprise taking up recommendations from energy savings assessment will invest £15,000 per year in energy efficiency measures and benefit from bill savings of £56,400 per year.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “Effective energy efficiency means cutting out waste and increasing profits. These new energy saving assessments will help our largest firms identify where money can be saved by installing energy efficiency measures.

“The potential benefits of cutting down on energy waste are significant – £56,400 savings per year on the energy bills of the average large business, and £1.9 billion benefits to the UK as a whole.”

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Investing in energy efficiency can hugely benefit our big businesses, helping British businesses get ahead in the global race.

“Energy saving assessments will show exactly where the biggest savings can be made and if firms then go forward and invest, they will soon see the benefits.”

There will be no legal requirements to implement the energy saving measures identified, but the assessments could help large businesses, large charities and other large organisations to consider the benefits of investing in energy efficiency.

Net social benefits of £1.9 billion could be achieved even if 6 per cent of the potential energy savings identified through assessments in buildings and industrial processes are implemented by participating organisations.

The new scheme will complement other Government initiatives aimed at helping business make investments to improve energy efficiency, such as the non-domestic Green Deal, Electricity Demand Reduction, and Enhanced Capital Allowances for energy-saving plant and machinery.

Enterprise zones investment grows to over a billion pounds

Eleven enterprise zones will benefit from a £150 million boost from the government to create local jobs and secure growth across the country, Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk announced today.

The fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund will help companies in enterprise zones expand their operations, creating new private sector jobs and economic growth.

This means enterprise zones and the local enterprise partnerships which support them will benefit from just under £800 million of government investment which has been already matched by almost £230 million of private sector investment, with many more on the pipeline.

Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: “This is more good news for enterprise zones. They are already having a positive impact in the economy, having created 3,000 jobs and attracted £230 million in private sector investment since their standing start 1 year ago.

“Their significant tax incentives, simplified planning and super fast broadband are making the country a great place to do business and rebalancing the economy by creating new local jobs and business ventures.

“Today’s extra investment will give our enterprise zones another boost towards delivering strong and lasting growth so we can compete in the global economy.”

This announcement is just one of range of steps the government has taken to rebalance the economy and support local businesses looking to grow and create jobs.

The government has reformed the way councils are funded by establishing 39 local enterprise partnerships that along with enterprise zones are able to access the billions of government investment to support their local economy, including the £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund.

UK wind energy set to boost the trades and create new jobs

The power of the UK’s offshore and onshore wind resource is set to be harnessed further today, with the go-ahead given for two large wind farms that will create new jobs.

Planning consent has been granted for what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast, with a total investment of £3.6 billion that will create 1,130 jobs and provide power to 820,000 homes.

New jobs are set to be created as a result of that development that will generate enough power for almost one million homes when completed and bring significant investment into the economy.

Secretary of State for Energy Edward Davey said: “The investments by Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm Limited and Vattenfall are testament to the power of inward investment in the UK.

“These two projects will attract billions in investment into the UK, support hundreds of skilled green jobs in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and in the county boroughs of Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf whilst providing homes with clean energy.

“Only last week the Prime Minister opened the London Array, the largest operating wind farm in the world, and today we gave planning permission to build a bigger offshore wind farm and also welcome the go-ahead of the biggest onshore wind farm in England and Wales. Offshore and onshore wind is an important contributor to our energy mix.

“We have provided certainty early to onshore and offshore wind investors and now see significant investment decisions being made that will benefit the UK’s economy for years to come.”

BAM gets £10m Salford technical college contract

Salford’s new University Technical College (UTC) at MediaCityUK has taken a major step forward with the selection of BAM Construction for the £10.4 million design and build contract.

The proposed UTC@MediaCityUK, as it would be known, will specialise in the creative and digital industries with a direct link to boosting employment and stimulating economic growth.

UTC Project Manager Abigail Williams said: “UTC@MediaCityUK will provide outstanding opportunities for young people to develop skills in the digital and media industries and we believe that this new college will deliver the right facilities and environment to foster our students’ ambitions”.

BAM construction’s bid manager, Adrian Blackie said: “UTC@MediaCityUK is a fantastic and exciting project to be involved with due to the specific areas of specialisation it will offer, and we are delighted to have been selected.

“We have developed excellent relationships with the sponsors and look forward to working with them to deliver this impressive purpose built UTC to serve the Greater Manchester region.”

Architect IBI Taylor Young is working on designs for the 6,200 sq m building which will accommodate the industries’ specific requirements and include state-of-the-art TV and Radio studios, as well as Interactive Media and Gaming studios.

Supported by the Department of Education and funded by the Education Funding Agency the UTC@MediaCityUK is sponsored by a comprehensive network of partners led by The Aldridge Foundation, The University of Salford, Salford City College and The Lowry.

The design and build team includes architect IBI Taylor Young, civil and structural engineers Curtins, building services consultant Ramboll, landscape architect Planit IE and interior designer Space Zero.

Lovell lands £269m Greenwich estate rebuild

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has appointed developer Lovell to undertake a £269 million redevelopment programme which will transform three Woolwich council estates and pave the way for new construction jobs.

The project, in partnership with asra Housing Group, will see the demolition and redevelopment of the 1,064-home Connaught, Morris Walk and Grove estates and their replacement with 1,500 new high-quality, mixed tenure homes.

Construction work on the 13-year project for the three estates, which occupy around 12 hectares of land to the east and west of Woolwich town centre, is set to start in May 2014 following an extensive stakeholder consultation and the submission of planning applications.

Lovell, which has a solid record of achievement in working with communities to create successful, sustainable mixed tenure neighbourhoods, was chosen for the scheme following a rigorous selection process. The architects are Pollard Thomas Edwards.

The scheme will create 975 new homes for open market sale; 375 homes for affordable rent and 150 shared ownership homes. All properties will be energy efficient, meeting Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Asra Housing Group will be responsible for the management of the new shared ownership and affordable rent homes.

Lovell regional director Peter Taylor says: “We’re delighted to have been selected to work with residents, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and asra Housing Group to deliver this wide-ranging regeneration programme which will bring new open market and affordable housing of the highest quality to the area along with new community facilities and infrastructure and significant employment and training opportunities.”

Matt Cooney, Chief Executive of asra Housing Group, said: “We are proud to be delivering more than 500 homes affordable homes. This is happening at a time when there is a housing shortage, particularly in London.

“This development will breathe new life into the area and we are certain it will become a thriving community who will be living in high quality sustainable homes at affordable prices.”

Work starts on new school campus

Kier Construction has started work on a brand new £5.2 million primary school campus in North Tyneside that will boost the construction industry and help the local economy.

The Longbenton Voluntary Aided Schools campus will house two schools – St Stephen’s RC Primary and St Bartholomew’s Church of England Primary.

Children from both schools were invited to a special blessing and ceremony where they helped perform the official turf cutting alongside council chairman Cllr Janet Hunter, and cabinet member for children, young people and learning, Cllr Ian Grayson.

Kier is building the campus on the former Goathland Primary School site in Longbenton. Both new schools will retain their individual identities and remain two distinct and separate schools with their own registration, faith and ethos.

Cllr Grayson said: “This is an exciting and long-awaited day and I am delighted and honoured to be helping the children cut the first piece of ground.

“This is a first for North Tyneside. We are building two fantastic new primary schools in one state-of-the-art building with bright, modern classrooms, a community building and extensive outdoor facilities. The children will get the best possible chance to learn and achieve their full potential, while teachers will have the best possible environment in which to deliver the first-class educational opportunities our children deserve.

“This is a brilliant opportunity and I can’t wait for the building work to be finished and the new schools to be open in September next year.”

The event was also attended by the Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn, local councillors, head teachers, teachers, church officials and representatives from Kier Construction.

Mrs Redfearn said: “This symbolic ceremony marks the start of the work and who better to get it under way than the children themselves.  They are our VIPs – very important pupils – who are such enthusiastic and wonderful ambassadors for their schools.”

Steve Lynn, Kier Construction project manager, added: “We are delighted to be involved with this innovative project, which sees two high quality schools housed under one roof benefitting from shared efficiencies and savings. It is satisfying to get on site and make a start on what will be a fantastic facility.”

Hull Council appoints housing developer to kick-start new regeneration scheme

Hull City Council has appointed Compendium Living as its development partner to build new modern housing within the Ings area of Hull that will create new trade jobs.

Hull City Council and Compendium Living have been working together to develop plans and designs for 770 new quality homes that will transform the Ings focus area into an ‘urban village’ and boost the local economy.

This appointment will allow the Council and Compendium Living to replicate the success of the housing developments created by the Council and its partners in the west of the city.

These are some of the fastest selling developments in the country last year. It is hoped that following planning approval building will begin in summer 2014.

Councillor John Black, Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Operational Housing, said: “We are pleased to announce the appointment of Compendium Living as our Lead Developer Partner for Ings. We look forward to working in partnership with Compendium to develop high quality, modern housing in a much needed area. These are exciting times for the area and it presents a real opportunity for the community to shape the area for generations to come and to be involved in the regeneration.”

Dave Bullock, Managing Director of Compendium Living, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been appointed by Hull City Council to carry out this very important regeneration project, and now to be starting the detailed work which will lead to the revitalisation of the Ings area of East Hull.

“We believe that the scale and quality of the plans we have devised with the City Council and local people will help transform this part of the city and create a more attractive, safe and popular place to live for all those people who make this their home.”

Galliford Try wins £41m Edinburgh hospital job

Galliford Try and its Scottish business partner, Morrison Construction, have been appointed as preferred contractors for the first phase of the £41.8 million redevelopment of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

In addition to that contract, Galliford Try has been chosen to provide ongoing hard facilities maintenance and lifecycle management worth approximately £18 million over the next 25 years.

Morrison Construction will deliver a new state-of-the-art 15,500 sqm specialist mental health facility on the west edge of the existing campus in Morningside, Edinburgh.

When operational the facility will provide services for the adult acute mental health inpatient service, intensive psychiatric care, national brain injury unit, mental health rehabilitation and older people’s mental health assessment and treatment services.

Galliford Try Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “We are delighted to have been selected by hub South East for this major project in Edinburgh.

“This appointment demonstrates the strength of our business across our construction, facilities management and investments teams and we look forward to working with hub and NHS Lothian to create the top class facilities the local public deserve.”

Preston reaches out with new homes and jobs

A major new development in north Preston will boost economic growth and create more than 175 jobs if planning application is approved by Preston City Council.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has unveiled plans to create up to 300 homes, neighbourhood facilities and a major link road on land off Eastway in Preston.

Building construction work is set to continue for 15 years, paving the way for new employment opportunities in the trades.

The 25-hecatare site has been masterplanned following extensive consultation with local residents, statutory consultees and a panel of North West design experts.

A key feature of the layout of the new development has been to work within the framework of the existing ecological features, creating an attractive network of open spaces and ensuring permeability from the site into the surrounding area.

Tom Warburton, head of Cumbria and Lancashire at the HCA said: “The site has been identified for development for many years so submitting a planning application for this scheme is great news for the area.

“Once we get the go ahead, we can start to unlock the site to create much needed new homes for Preston.

“Longer term, this 15-year development will include new infrastructure to support the growth of Preston city centre and surrounding areas, bringing with it new jobs, enhanced communities and economic growth for Central Lancashire.”

Leeds City Council gets £120m housing regeneration boost

Leeds City Council gets £120m housing regeneration boost

Leeds City Council has signed a major contract set to deliver a huge regeneration programme, build new homes and create hundreds of trade jobs.

The Council and sustainable communities for Leeds (sc4L) have signed the contract that will last for 20 years and help communities across the Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck areas of the city.

Local communities will benefit from the refurbishment of the 1245 council homes, and the construction of 388 new council homes to rent with environmental improvements to the estates.

Capital investment of over £120 million over the next three and a half years will provide training and employment schemes leading to jobs, work placements, apprenticeships and social enterprise opportunities.

The project is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government under the Private Finance Initiative.

Leeds City Council has forecast that the refurbishment of homes and new regeneration activity will improve the lives of local residents and boost the local economy.

Councillor for neighbourhoods and planning, Peter Gruen, said: “We welcome the news that this project has reached financial close. I am very pleased that we can finally start to deliver the project for these communities, who have waited a long time. I want to thank the residents for their continued patience, now is the time to finally deliver results!

“The council has worked extremely hard with its partners over many years to move this project along at the various stages. It is great to sign it off and be able to tell local people they will start to see work happening soon.

Jon Hinchliff, sc4L general manager said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with Leeds City Council and the local communities within Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck.

“The team we have assembled to deliver this project is local, committed, professional and vastly experienced. We are all keen to get started and are looking forward to making a positive difference to the neighbourhoods and communities living here.”

Rydon secures £11.3m housing contract

Rydon wins £11.3m housing contract

Thames Valley Housing Association (TVHA) has appointed Rydon as their delivery partner for a new £11.3 million development on the site of the former Newman House office block in Surrey.

The scheme will see the building of 90 one and two-bedroom apartments with shared courtyard space built above 1,100 square metres of commercial space and a new car park.

The new six-storeys building will occupy a central location on the corner of Victoria Road and Russells Crescent, working with local sub-contractors and people in the trades.

75 homes will be available through TVHA on a shared ownership basis with the remaining 15 available through affordable rent. The retail space will comprise one large unit of around 500 square metres and three smaller units of around 200 square metres.

Mark Mitchener, Managing Director, Rydon Construction said: “This is a significant scheme for the town and we will ensure local sub-contractors reap the benefits throughout the construction process. We also intend to support the next generation of the construction industry through a training programme for young people in the area.”

The development is due for completion in spring 2015 and forms part of the master plan for the regeneration of Horley, which includes 2,600 new homes, better public transport as well as enhanced recreation and leisure facilities.

Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive Officer of Thames Valley Housing added: “We’re delighted to be working with Rydon on a proposal that will help to regenerate this important site in Horley town centre and improve its vitality by providing quality affordable homes both for rent and for shared ownership.”

“The new homes have all been designed to a very high standard and are very local to supermarkets, shops and other amenities.  The homes for sale been designed to appeal to professional people wanting to get onto the housing ladder, ideal because of the close proximity to the London to Brighton mainline and to Gatwick as well as the town centre.”

Rydon secures £11.3m housing contract

Thames Valley Housing Association (TVHA) has appointed Rydon as their delivery partner for a new £11.3 million development on the site of the former Newman House office block in Surrey.

The scheme will see the building of 90 one and two-bedroom apartments with shared courtyard space built above 1,100 square metres of commercial space and a new car park.

The new six-storeys building will occupy a central location on the corner of Victoria Road and Russells Crescent, working with local sub-contractors and people in the trades.

75 homes will be available through TVHA on a shared ownership basis with the remaining 15 available through affordable rent. The retail space will comprise one large unit of around 500 square metres and three smaller units of around 200 square metres.

Mark Mitchener, Managing Director, Rydon Construction said: “This is a significant scheme for the town and we will ensure local sub-contractors reap the benefits throughout the construction process. We also intend to support the next generation of the construction industry through a training programme for young people in the area.”

The development is due for completion in spring 2015 and forms part of the master plan for the regeneration of Horley, which includes 2,600 new homes, better public transport as well as enhanced recreation and leisure facilities.

Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive Officer of Thames Valley Housing added: “We’re delighted to be working with Rydon on a proposal that will help to regenerate this important site in Horley town centre and improve its vitality by providing quality affordable homes both for rent and for shared ownership.”

“The new homes have all been designed to a very high standard and are very local to supermarkets, shops and other amenities.  The homes for sale been designed to appeal to professional people wanting to get onto the housing ladder, ideal because of the close proximity to the London to Brighton mainline and to Gatwick as well as the town centre.”

Skills2Learn opens new centre to make learning easier

An award-winning virtual reality and digital training developer, Skills2Learn, has celebrated its successful multimedia legacy with the launch of a new state-of-the-art Head Office in Milton Keynes.

Skills2Learn has been helping people from different trades to gain professional skills in a risk-free environment through innovative e-learning training solutions and game-based environment scenarios.

In a true Skills2Learn style, Mayor Brian White and Mark Lancaster MP, cut the ribbon and unveiled the plaque using an interactive virtual reality programme, which has been designed and built by a dedicated team at Skills2Learn.

Commenting on the long-lasting legacy of Skills2Learn and the exciting launch of company’s new Head Office Mark Lancaster MP said: “This is my first experience of opening an office with the power of just one finger!”

Other official guests included Iain Stewart MP and Mayoress Mrs Leena White who were able to view the new offices, meet with members of staff and experience some of the new technologies that Skills2Learn are pioneering including interactive virtual reality scenario based assessments, mobile augmented reality solutions and the new revolutionary virtual holographic environment.

Commenting on the official opening of the centre Chief Executive of Skill2Learn, Majid Al-Kader, said: “We are pleased that so many friends and clients could join us today, this is a great opportunity for us to say thank you to all who have supported us over the past few years and introduce the new members of our team.

“We are very proud of our achievements and I think the number of clients who have supported us today is a great reflection of not only the standard of the work that the team produces but how we work with our clients and deliver their objectives.”

Mr Al-Kader added: “We moved in at the end of April and have already added more than twelve new members of staff to the team. This year, Skills2Learn has secured major projects with well-known National and International clients.

“We wanted to stay local to Milton Keynes especially as we have such great links with local colleges and business’ so these new offices are ideal.”

Many of Skills2Learn’s clients and partners joined the celebration including Babcock, British Gas, Capita, Cengage Learning, Centrica, EAL, EU Skills, Network Rail, Milton Keynes College, College of North West London, Stoke on Trent College, Central Bedfordshire College and Weldability SIF.

Support for energy intensive industries

Support for energy intensive industriesEnergy intensive businesses will get help to offset the cost of energy policy on their electricity bills under plans published by Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

Proposals to exempt the most electricity intensive industries from a proportion of the costs of Contracts for Difference will be subject to consultation. The move will “level the playing field” so that British businesses are not made uncompetitive due to the costs of this policy.

Contracts for Difference have been introduced to support investment in low carbon electricity generation. They are a significant element of Electricity Market Reform (EMR) and aim to stimulate investment by providing a stable long-term price for low carbon electricity.

Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “As we reform the market to attract new investment into our energy infrastructure, it is vital that we do not undermine the competitiveness of UK industry.

“Energy intensive manufacturing is central to strengthening our industrial base and rebalancing our economy. These industries are significant employers and play an important role in the low carbon economy through the products they manufacture.”

The exemption from the costs of Contracts for Difference is part of a government package to support the most electricity intensive industries. This consultation sets out what the exemption might look like, and seeks views on eligibility criteria.

The recommended option is to use the same eligibility criteria as the EU Emissions Trading System and Carbon Price Support indirect costs compensation. This would exempt industries with a total combined value to the UK of approximately £50 billion in turnover, employing 150,000 people.

David Cameron launches world’s largest offshore wind farm

The Prime Minister has attended the inauguration of London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm located 12 miles off the Kent and Essex coasts in the outer Thames Estuary.

More than 75 organisations and 6,700 individuals were involved in its construction, with up to 1,000 people working on site. The lessons learned are expected to help reduce the cost of future offshore wind farms.

Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is a great day for Kent and a great day for Britain. London Array has been built by some of the bravest seamen, the most talented engineers and hardest workers. It will bring benefits to Kent for years to come.”

London Array will be able to power the equivalent of around half a million UK households and should help reduce harmful CO2 emissions by more than 900,000 tonnes a year.

As well as marking a big step forward for UK renewable energy generation it will help ensure a reliable electricity source for the south east.

Inward investment for the project came from Denmark-based DONG Energy, the E.ON Group and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar.

Later, the PM joined Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in London for the official ground-breaking ceremony of the 39-acre Battersea Power Station site redevelopment.

The long-awaited project will transform the area into a vibrant new neighbourhood and see the iconic Grade II listed power station fully restored and opened to the public, 30 years after it was decommissioned.

Some 3,500 new homes, shops, restaurants and offices will be built, set in a 6-acre riverside park with the power station at its heart.

The redevelopment will generate 15,000 new jobs and has attracted inward investment from a Malaysian-led consortium of SP Setia, Sime Darby and EPF, with redevelopment undertaken by the British-based Battersea Power Station Development Company.

Miller wins £48m of schools work in South East

Miller Construction has been appointed as preferred contractor for 13 schools across the South East, with a construction value of over £48 million.

Clients include Hampshire County Council, Reading Borough Council, Surrey County Council and West Sussex County Council that will share services arrangement set to boost the trades and stimulate employment.

The Property Services Cluster (PSC), which enables all four Councils to work together to achieve substantial efficiency benefits and cost reductions, has selected the IESE (Improvement and Efficiency South East) framework to deliver about 30 schools with a combined construction value of £100 million.

Chris Webster, Chief Executive, Miller Construction, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to deliver services on 13 schools for the Property Services Cluster via the IESE framework.

“This appointment reiterates our continued commitment to our strategy focussing on long-term partnerships and framework agreements.

“We have a proven track record in the education market and we are confident the schools we deliver as part of this framework will leave behind a positive legacy for the pupils who will use them.”

The latest tranche will see Miller initially delivering pre-construction services on ten schools across Surrey; De Stafford Primary, Stamford Green Primary, Cranmere Primary, Hurst Park Primary, Esher High School, Redhill, Horley NE, Langshott Primary, Earlswood Junior and Holmesdale Infant School, with a combined value of £35.5 million.

Work gets underway for new Durham homes

Construction work is underway to build 24 affordable homes in County Durham, thanks to a partnership between Yuill Homes and the Vela Group.

Leading North East housebuilder Yuill Homes will deliver eight new two bedroom bungalows for rent at Greenwood Cottages in Thornley Village with funds generated at its successful nearby private housing development, Crossways.

Built with support from Durham County Council and the local parish council, the energy-efficient homes will be available to rent through the Vela Group, which incorporates Tristar Homes and Housing Hartlepool. Each home will be allocated to people in the greatest housing need via the Durham Key Options lettings system.

Stephen Jackson, head of partnership development at Yuill Homes, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Vela Group on these important affordable housing schemes. Each scheme also forms part of our Affordable Homes Programme with the Homes and Communities Agency to continue to provide new affordable homes in local communities over the next few years.”

As well as delivering eight new affordable homes in Thornley Village, Yuill Homes is also working in partnership with the Vela Group to develop 16 two and three bedroom homes for rent at its Denewood development in Murton.

Part funded with an investment from the HCA, the £1.3 million scheme will see each home at the development built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 Standard, helping residents to keep their energy bills affordable.

Sarah Fawcett, Head of Development at Vela said: “We have a long history of working with Yuill Homes, to deliver attractive, high quality modern homes for customers to rent or buy as shared owners. These are our first schemes in Thornley and Murton and we know that people will be delighted with the new homes that we will be able to offer here.”

Cllr Eddie Tomlinson, Cabinet member for housing, said: “Durham County Council is committed to ensuring more affordable housing is available across the county and we’re delighted that Yuill Homes are building such good quality homes in line with our strategic aims.

“The new houses promise to not only be built to a high standard but will also be environmentally friendly, increasing the range of affordable homes for County Durham residents.”

RTI Speaks at The Houses of Parliament, London – Raising the plight of Slovak Families and the UK’s social Services

RTI LogoRTI broadcaster Eric Wiltsher spoke at the House Of Parliament in London, highlighting the plight of Slovak families struggling to come to terms with the UK’s Social Services system. In addition Mr Wiltsher, who was accompanied by CEO or RTI and AquaCity Dr Jan Telensky, raised issues of trading between the UK and Slovakia as well as EU Citiizens’ rights in both countries.

Dr. Jan Telensky, Eric Wiltsher (RTI) Michael Robert in Parliament

Dr. Jan Telensky, Eric Wiltsher (RTI) Michael Robert in Parliament

Dr Jan Telensky said, “It is a real honour for any British Citizen to be invited to speak in Parliament and an even higher accolade that Eric was able to highlight issues for both UK and Slovak citizens.

“RTI is continually fighting for the rights of citizens in Slovakia as well as sharing the beauty of the Tatras, Poprad and the entire Presov region to its global audience in English.

“With RTI Slovakia has a massive mouthpiece to encourage tourism and demonstrate the Republic has and is a modern European partner”.

Eric Wiltsher added, “I was very encouraged that members of the Conservative Party, Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats all spoke to me at great length after the formal meeting. Lord Dykes showed particular interest in the issues raised and especially the cultures of Slovakia that need to be respected by the UK’s Social Services.

“Speaking in Parliament is a great honour for any British Citizen. However, to do this whilst raising issues for both my mother and adopted country, Slovakia, made the experience a night too remember for ever.

“I am also particularly proud that RTI is seen to be worthy of such attention when some would have preferred the station to have closed years ago. To the loyal listeners, we will remain a force for you in the future”.



Notes to editors:

RTI started broadcasting in the UK and Slovakia. After almost three years on air, following Supreme Court action and an appeal, the Slovak regulator gained its desired outcome and RTI closed on FM in the Republic for broadcasting in English.

RTI was then offered a life line by a number of respected broadcasters and service broadcast suppliers.

RTI can now be heard in 27 countries with its biggest audience in America. However, within the European services, directly from www.rti.fm, the overall largest listenership is in Slovakia. All programmes are now broadcast from the UK and regulated by the UKs regulator OFCOM.