Left to right: Tracey Crouch MP (MP for Chatham and Aylesford); Tony Morris (Managing Director, Polypipe Terrain), David Hall (Polypipe Group, Chief Executive), Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP (Minister of State for Business and Enterprise); Adam Turk (Commercial Director, Polypipe Terrain); and Simon Storer (Communications and External Affairs Director, The Construction Products Association).
The Association had the pleasure of organising a site visit earlier this week for the Business Minister Michael Fallon MP to our member Polypipe’s manufacturing facilities in Aylesford, Kent, just outside Maidstone (see our press release).
The visit was hosted by Polypipe Group Chief Executive David Hall and Commercial Director Adam Turk. The local Tory MP Tracy Crouch also attended.
A number of issues were raised and discussed:
David raised the matter of energy cost and supply and the concerns that are reflected across the industry.
He pointed out that the current system of penalties penalises those companies that are already energy efficient. It would be better and simpler to raise the price per therm through taxation than through the current perverse method that benefits the most energy inefficient.
We also discussed capacity and the desperate need for a more certain future – the need for nuclear new-build to get underway. Also, EDF must not set French standards for their supply chain at Hinkley.
We welcomed the initiative and agreed that it needs to be brave and ambitious (in line with the Minister’s objective). Our main concerns are ensuring that construction products manufacturing is integral to the Strategy and that the final version is whole-heartedly supported by all parties with an agreement that it is a joint government / industry initiative.
Polypipe explained their successful export activity and the value this has brought to their business over the past couple of years, but they also highlighted some of the difficulties of new markets and the importance of the UK reputation due to high standards supported by good UK regulation – see below.
We stressed to the Minister the fundamental importance that we should not dilute regulation and standards in the construction industry, as this was key to our international reputation in many overseas markets.
Regulation was also the principle means of keeping cowboy builders out of the market and improving the perception of the industry with the public. De-regulation would also reduce the amount of “for cash” jobs and therefore ensure VAT was paid. We pointed out that it is difficult to improve and monitor standards without good regulation – which should not be confused with reducing red tape.