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ACE warns: Scottish government must act to avoid construction meltdown

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), has urged the Scottish government to take decisive action to stave off a potential meltdown in the Scottish construction sector this summer.
Following reports this week highlighting the apparent reluctance of the Scottish government to accelerate progress on the Scottish Futures Trust, which aims to provide an alternative to current arrangements for the funding of public infrastructure projects, ACE Scotland chairman Jim Tod echoed the views of the Scottish Building Federation in emphasising a number of major projects which are due to end during the next six months.

'There is no desire for scaremongering within the Scottish construction sector but to carry on with our heads in the sand will be costly indeed and something has to be done to avoid a total standstill which, at this stage, is looking inevitable,' said Tod.

'The cold and stark facts are that construction work with a total capital value of £352M on schools and hospitals and other projects with an additional capital value of £782M will all be finished by the beginning of November.

'That's well over £1B of public infrastructure projects across Scotland that will reach completion during the next half year. When those projects dry up there will be a large hole to fill and we need to find a solution now if we are to avoid a meltdown in the construction sector,' Tod claimed.

The lack of progress of the flagship funding mechanism north of the border has been increasingly evident for some time.

The Scottish Futures Trust initially raised hopes that a capital expenditure programme could be successful in delivering infrastructure and projects in Scotland but with optimism fast turning into malaise the feeling now is that the Scottish government must act quickly to avert serious long-term consequences for the construction industry.

'The sector cannot afford a gap in project delivery between the previous funding regime and this one', Tod said. 'Let's not get to the point where firms are about to down tools before a solution is found. The Scottish government can't afford to be reckless here.'

17 April 2009


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