Project Compass director gives keynote address at RIAI Conference 2018

Project Compass director Russell Curtis has given a keynote address at the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) Annual Conference where he discussed the challenges of public procurement in the UK and how Project Compass is campaigning for reform to improve the dire situation experienced by most architects bidding for work in the public sector.

Russell provided a brief overview of the current state of public procurement of buildings, drawing on data from the RIBA “Building Ladders of Opportunity” report from 2014, together with some thoughts on whether failures in commissioning might have contributed to the Grenfell tragedy.

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Call for ‘bottom up’ enablement by regulatory clarity

Following investigations into London’s Garden Bridge nineteen architects have written to the Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, calling for better ‘bottom up’ enablement of public services through regulatory clarity.

“There is now little motivation for design professionals to initiate and nurture projects from inception as almost invariably the original designers will be preclude as the established competition processes are highly restrictive.

This effectively ‘locks out’ many of those who would be particularly well placed to support ‘bottom up’ endeavours, whether for example through the engagement of design professionals with their communities or by creating imaginative and valuable design ideas contributing to the city’s wider needs, vitality and wellbeing.”

The proposals tabled would “..allow all to benefit from the positive and creative endeavours of those developing built environment ideas for public good.

“London has many challenges and it is clear that we need to find a way that will encourage design professionals to come forward with ideas and to engage with communities in order to meet these challenges, and for client bodies to know they can access those ideas and benefit from the knowledge and work already carried out.”

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Procurement reforms at TfL after Hodge Review

After the Thames Garden Bridge debacle and in response to the Hodge Review, on 17 July TfL Board were invited to approve a series of recommendations for governance changes to increase oversight and effectiveness of their procurement activities. This follows on from a number of other previously implemented changes also made public HERE.  Whilst this represents progress following the Project Compass report into the ‘Thames Garden Bridge Procurement Issues’ (feb 2016) we will continue to work forward on the need for further reform of procurement governance, practices, procedures and opportunities, particularly for design professionals, both across London and elsewhere.

Project Compass CIC Director appointed to Mayor’s Design Advocate panel

One of the founding directors of Project Compass CIC has been appointed to the Mayor of London’s Design Advocate Panel, it was announced on Monday.

In his foreword to the publication the Mayor made a commitment to promoting better procurement of design services, as well as holding design competitions for some GLA projects.

The foreword reads:

“We will use open procurement processes such as design competitions to seek the highest standards for public projects and will push the firms we commission to do much more to tackle the under-representation of women and people from minority groups in the built environment professions.”

The full publication is available to download here.

Good riddance to the Garden Bridge

Good riddance to the Garden Bridge: an eye-watering waste of public funds

Walter Menteth article originally published 11 May, 2017 in

 

 

With one swift blow, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confounded plans to construct a leafy walkway above the River Thames. By refusing to guarantee further public funds, the mayor leaves the Garden Bridge project with a funding gap of some £70m, and a countdown of just eight months until planning permission expires.

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Flying by the seat of their pants

 

(Walter Menteth article originally published September 13, 2016 on LinkedIn Pulse)

There have been significant recent revelations about the Thames Garden Bridge in London and the Garden Bridge Trusts structure and funding.

These reveal the Trusts near exclusive reliance on public funding, which reputedly amounts to £30m from Transport for London, £30m from central government, along with the costs and liabilities of indemnifying the project along with the contracts the Trust has entered into.

There have also been revelations about the number of significant and expensive contracts the Trust have now let on their own account, at exceptionally high risk. These have onerous obligations and damaging break clauses. These have been let prior to the project having received full authority and clearance to proceed with construction. Continue reading “Flying by the seat of their pants”

Muddy Waters “Jobs for the boys”

London’s proposed Thames Garden Bridge

(Walter Menteth article originally appeared in January 31, 2016 on LinkedIn pulse)

From all that is now known about the Thames Garden Bridge it has become increasingly apparent that this project represents a turning point.  Its entire procurement is characterised by corruption that is tainted by nepotism and collusion.

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