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Procurement within the built heritage sector

Jon Wallsgrove

Ministry of Justice

Good afternoon. I’m from the Ministry of Justice, as we’re now called – we keep changing our names, that’s all government departments do. I want to say a little about why heritage and heritage skills are important to us, as a government department. I’ll give you three reasons and then I’m going to explain a little, about the framework we’ve just set up.

The first thing to say is that we have a lot of buildings – we have about 800 buildings, of which twenty per cent are listed buildings. So we have a lot of our heritage. Lots that are Victorian, but the oldest ones go back to the 13th century, they are still in use, they have lasted an awful long time, and they still work remarkably well. So that’s quite a significant part of our buildings. The majority of our buildings are in the sixties and seventies, that’s the age of them, and we’re building a few more now. So that’s one of the reasons: because we have a lot of buildings.

The next one is an interesting reason: we have just been doing some research recently – this is just the preliminary results from it – looking at energy usage in historic buildings. Everybody always believes that old buildings, especially old houses, use vast amounts of energy, you have to have a wonderful, marvellous new building which uses hardly any energy. We have all our bills, for all our energy, in all our buildings. We did an analysis of this, so forget the theory, the reality is, with public buildings, the old buildings use a lot less energy. Buildings of the 19th century and earlier use the lowest energy, it slowly builds up between the wars, buildings of the forties, fifties and sixties use half as much energy again as the Victorian buildings, then down through the seventies and eighties it started to decline, and now with our latest, high-tech, greenest buildings, all the efforts to spend on it haven’t quite reached as good as the Victorian buildings. So that, to us, is a pretty good reason for using our heritage buildings, because ecologically they are so much better, they use so much less energy.

The third reason is one to do with justice and crime: the statistics from our prisons show that sixty per cent of the prison population have learning difficulties, they have literacy problems, numeracy problems. In some of the prisons, it’s up to ninety per cent can’t properly read, write and do arithmetic. That’s a big problem. We’ve also found from our research that if you don’t have those basic skills – very, very basic skills – you are excluded from eighty per cent of jobs. Craft skills, and the outdoor skills - things like, farming, that sort of thing, as well as the craft skills in the building industry – are areas where it doesn’t matter that much if you can’t read and write or do arithmetic, you can still be a superb craftsman. You do find that – it’s a bit of a challenge to the people paying for education, but, these people need jobs as well, and that’s a good field to be in. So, if that’s the sort of field they can be in, in skills, heritage skills particularly, then maybe they’ll be doing that, rather than going through our courts on the wrong side, and end up in prison. So that’s another good reason for caring about our heritage.

I’d like to say a little bit about the framework contracts that we’ve just set up. This is actually a renewal of a contract: we’ve had a similar contract for many years. OGC took it over about four years ago, and with English Heritage, ourselves, we set up this contract. It is for architects working in heritage. OGC have now got bored with it and dropped it, so we’ve taken it back on again. We’ve set this up with a number of other groups, but the basic work that’s required from our specialist conservation consultants - they’re basically architects. The things that they do, they do in quadrennial inspections, they’re looking at the conservation and the maintenance of our buildings, doing annual inspections, quadrennial inspections, so that’s one end of it.

The other end of it is looking at new works to these buildings – extensions, alterations, continuing them in use, finding new ways to use them and restoring them as well. So they do option studies, and they look at project management, and lots of different skills. They also help write the reports to ministers. So they do a wide range of things, but the key factor is that whilst they are in the heritage sector, they are specialists in this, but they actually create the work to show that it’s worth doing, so they’ve actually got the craftsmen who can do the work as well. It’s part of a continuum of having the buildings, having the clients who want them, having the consultants who can tell you what you can do and how you should do it, down to the craftsmen who actually wield the hammers and chisels.

The people we’ve worked with for this framework are the Palace of Westminster, and the Cabinet Office, but we’ve also opened up the framework so any other government department can use these people, and local authority can use them, any other authority like, say, the police, any charities – it’s open to them. Anybody can use this framework, it saves all the problems of going through OJEU, and all that sort of thing. They have all been checked and tested, and very well experienced, very good people.

The people we actually have, for the sake of our contracts, for the courts, we divide you into different regions, but you don’t have to use different regions, anybody who wants to use these, they can. The three firms are Buttress Fuller Alsop WiIliams – who are based up in the Midlands north – they are covering the north for us; ?Don Linsells Associates are doing Wales and the Midlands, and Purcell Miller Tritton are doing the south. They are all very, very experienced, very good, have done a marvellous range of buildings – not just public buildings, private ones, too. It’s very, very good stuff they do.

But that’s not the only framework we have. All our contracts are set up in the same way, as I mentioned, so that anybody can use them. So the other consultants we have, some of them are specialists on conservation, some are just in new buildings, but you can use craftsmanship in new buildings as well as historic ones, and that’s an important factor to remember. It’s difficult to get through the Treasury, and it doesn’t cost any more, but it is an excellent thing to do. So the other ones we have are Nicoll Russell Studios – an excellent small firm, based up in the wilds of northern Scotland, who are doing work all over Britain for us – Austin-Smith: Lord - good on courts - Terry Farrell, John Le Castellane, ?Dendercook and Marshall, who have just done a magnificent building for us in Manchester, about to open, ?Roland, HOK, Mouchel, Atkins, and Fielden and Mawson – Fielden and Mawson used to be on the framework, they’re still on a framework for us, but they’re so busy with other work they can’t do the conservation stuff.

So, the future: as I say, as far as we’re concerned, our historic buildings are a very important part of our building stock, in terms of energy conservation they’re an excellent thing and we want to keep them, they’re very adaptable, we want to use them – they’re going to be here for evermore, apart from which, there’s no way we can replace twenty per cent of our building stock, we don’t have the money. So, we’re going to keep these. Because the buildings work well, they’re good for the future, we have lots of them – as other people have – that means there is a future for the craft skills. Some of the ones that we’ve been doing recently: we’ve just done a very interesting building in Derby, where we found a building that had been empty for fifteen years, was then surrounded by new development, and we’ve got a wonderful combined historic and new court. We converted an old warehouse in Gee Street, in Fenton we’ve just discovered an old ballroom hidden above the ceiling of one of our courts – twice the size of this room – we didn’t know it was there, and the illustration here is the new Supreme Court in Parliament Square, where we’re converting a rather dowdy and rather brutalised, but fine arts and crafts building from the turn of the century, and we’re turning this into the new Supreme Court, with a magnificent three-storey library which you can see here.

So, there is a great future for craft skills, and for our consultants to use, which anybody can use, I’d encourage them to do it. Thank you.

[Film shown]

Peter Rogerson: I’d like now to introduce you to Murdo MacLeod, who is the Principal Conservation Officer from Edinburgh City Council. He’s going to discuss using masonry qualifications as a condition of contract for repair and maintenance, and I guess that will be something – certainly on table 1, something we were discussing in embryo, and he was looking awfully embarrassed because we were tripping over parts of his presentation – so, I think that’s going to be quite interesting. Edinburgh stipulate that contractors that they work with have to show evidence of training and competence, but they assist them, I think – from something Murdo was saying – in getting there, if they’re not already doing it.

So we’re going to have Murdo’s presentation, there will then be another short film – and I won’t introduce that – and we’ll then go into the second session. Thank you, Murdo.

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