In your November newsletter, I said I would provide an update on the essential items discussed in my meetings with three Scottish government ministers in November. In Scotland the devolved Parliament has powers over apprenticeships, skills, training, building standards, procurement, planning and housing. Each of these has a bearing, to a greater or lesser extent, on the business and operational environment for all FMB members in Scotland.
Voicing your feedback to government
So it is up to me to listen to members and explain to Scottish policy makers just how important our members are as local building firms to the construction industry and to maintaining and improving our built environment. This month, Scotland’s planning system, construction industry skills and housebuilding were the key topics in meetings at both the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government’s offices at Victoria Quay in Leith.
Graeme Dey, the Minister for Higher and Further Education and Paul McLennan, the Minister for Housing, reached out to the FMB for a discussion on skills requirements and labour shortages for construction and housebuilding. This was a follow up to Mr McLennan’s meeting with me in July. There was agreement that aligning national skills needs with those at the regional level in Scotland is essential. There will more on this in the new year as we agreed on regular dialogue.
Planning and Housing Roundtable
It was back to the Scottish Parliament again for the grandly titled ‘Ministerial Planning and Housing Roundtable.’ FMB was joined by other industry associations within and outside the construction sector. We were there as our housebuilder members (who are small and medium-sized enterprises building within their local communities) had raised their frustrations to me about planning issues. I summarised these in article for Scottish Construction Now. In short, planning delays are slowing down the delivery of both new homes and conversions, renovations and extensions of existing homes.
Working session on resourcing the planning system
To be fair to the Scottish Government, they have listened to the FMB’s and others’ views on problems within the planning system, so they set up a full day’s working session in Edinburgh to discuss resourcing it. This was hosted by Scotland’s Chief Planner Fiona Simpson, with other high-profile industry and public sector representative (including COSLA) bodies also present. My thanks to all members who responded to my calls and emails for your views and experiences ahead of this session on 20 November.
A special thanks to the four individuals from three member companies who took precious time away from their businesses to join me on the day in Leith. Having Pam Wilson (the Vice-President of the FMB Scotland Board) Stephen Lynas from Hadden Construction Ltd and Jonathan Allan and Joshua Park from Q Build Ltd amplified the FMB’s voice on behalf of local building companies in Scotland.
What happens next?
The next step is for the Chief Planner to follow up on the ideas and proposals put forward to help speed up delivery. There needs to be change: our members are clear about this. For now though, if you want to find out more about what was proposed at the planning session or have any questions about other aspects in this article, please get in touch.
Got a question?
Contact Gordon Nelson, Scotland Director on 07769 687 232 or email.