Can Continues To Build Momentum

Issue 103

Tim Barrett, chair of Construction Alliance North East (CAN), explains how the lobby group is building momentum and winning support across the public and private sectors for the role the construction sector plays in regional growth and job creation.

Can you tell us about Construction Alliance North East (CAN) – What is its aim and objectives?

CAN is a network of regional construction and engineering companies, representing over 500 member companies, operating at a combined turnover of £3billion and employing more than 100,000 people in the North East of England.

We play a strategic role in supporting and promoting the North East’s competent and capable SME contractors. We lobby Government, MPs, local authorities and other procurement organisations, to remind them of the wider benefits to our region’s economy of working with North East firms. We campaign to raise awareness and to create a level playing field, to allow local companies to win more work.

Our three pillars are based on Intelligent procurement, fair payment and skills and training.

CAN is a unique alliance. We focus on working collaboratively with each other and external organisations for the sole benefit of the region’s contractors. The four organisations which make up CAN are Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF), Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the National Federation of Builders (NFB). As a collective, the board meets regularly to proactively engage at a strategic level with those involved in the North East construction sector.

What does CAN have planned to support the SME sector in the North East?

CAN works collaboratively with other organisations such as Constructing Excellence North East and the construction industry council, as well as working independently on behalf of its members.

This year we are planning events and summits on various topics around contracts, local skills and talents and the new procurement bill.

These events are aimed at improving the links between clients and contractors and promoting simple, quick wins, like early engagement and choosing the right contracts.

We are also hoping to have a summit around procurement during the year, aimed at leaders of procurement and leaders at local authority level, promoting North East construction and simplifying the procurement process, so local contractors can undertake local works benefiting the local economy and communities.

How close do you work with the local authorities and procurement organisations such as NEPO?

CAN works very closely with NEPO, having quarterly meetings to run through any issues they are seeing in local procurement and offering advice and suggestions on where processes and procedure could be improved. They are a very important link to construction clients and help us provide a two-way discussion over procurement.

Where do you believe CAN has had the greatest impact since its formation?

One of the biggest impacts CAN has had is bringing together more than 500 companies through its member bodies – Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF), Federation of Master Builders (FMB), National Federation of Builders (NFB) and Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) to one place for promotion and lobbying to local clients.

One of the great things about the North East is the will to work locally and we hope that, alongside helping promote our three main pillars, we can carry on the good work in making sure North East companies are seen by clients as leaders in the construction and civil engineering fields.

How important is it that you link in and support other regional bodies such as Constructing Excellence North East?

Collaboration is vital to our regional bodies. We all share similar visions and direction for the construction and civil engineering industry in the North East and, by working together, we can be a much louder and impactful voice. This enables us to share the workload and target specific areas. Construction is a very broad church and we all want to see the sector at the forefront of the minds of local and regional government and influencing policy that will help the North East.

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