London Borough of Southwark tenders £3.275m drainage services contract

The London Borough of Southwark has gone out to tender with a contract for professional drainage services worth an estimated £3.275 million.

Southwark Council is looking to put a single supplier contract in place for a number of services including:

  • site investigations
  • design responsibility
  • ensuring authority and stakeholder consent
  • construction supervision and contract management in the capacity of drainage works

The services required in the London Borough of Southwark include the concept design, detailed design and works management of complex drainage schemes including sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) relating to the highways.Scope of works cover:

  • identify areas at risk of flooding
  • feasibility studies including all required surveys and data gathering
  • outline design of proposed solutions
  • detailed design of proposed solutions
  • works management and supervision
  • funding identification and application
  • principal designer responsibilities

Time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 24th February 2020 – click here to access the tender documentation.

Norwood Junction station upgrade receives significant support

The development of Norwood Junction station has been given the green light by residents, passengers and businesses in the area. With a 94% backing, the upgrade would allow trains to run more dependably and more frequently.

The proposals to upgrade the station were presented by Network Rail at public information sessions back in summer 2019 where themes such as impact on passengers, improving train services and suggestions for station design and platform layout were discussed.

Network Rail is proposing to remodel tracks and platforms to allow more trains to run through and stop at the station in the future. At the moment, stopping and fast trains share the same tracks, subsequently meaning delays to slow services have a knock-on effect on fast services and vice versa. Modern 12 car trains are also not able to travel through as the platforms are too narrow and too short.

The developments proposed would also make Norwood Junction station step-free for the first time, improving accessibility for those with reduced mobility and those travelling with luggage or a pushchair.

Managing Director of Network Rail’s Southern region, John Halsall said: “I’m pleased that our proposals for Norwood Junction station have been well received by passengers and local people. The proposals are a key part of our long terms plans to unblock the railway bottleneck in the Croydon area to reduce delays and overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.

“Taking onboard feedback from local people and passengers, we are continuing to develop those plans in detail and look forward to speaking with the public again at our next round of consultation this summer.”

Councilor Stuart King, Cabinet Lead for Environment and Transport at Croydon Council, said: “We are supportive of Network Rail’s efforts to improve their service for our residents and I’m pleased to see so many people engaging with the survey.

“Improvements to the station layout and tracks are essential if we are to offer residents a more reliable and inclusive service, including more stopping services at Norwood Junction.”

Stephen Miles, Principal Planner, Transport for London said: “Network Rail’s proposal to upgrade Norwood Junction station complements TfL’s plans for transforming rail services in south London. We have been working closely with Network Rail in developing these plans and will continue to do so.”

Work set to begin on £24m scheme to tackle A45 bottleneck

Work is set to begin on transforming a major bottleneck on the A45 to ease congestion and bring smoother journeys for drivers.

A major £24 million upgrade is planned by Highways England for the busy A45/A6 Chowns Mill junction that will make journeys safer and more reliable. Work will begin on 10 February 2020.

The A45 is a key link between the A14 and M1, serving the growing Northampton, Wellingborough and Rushden areas.

At Chowns Mill Roundabout the A45 is crossed by the A6 and provides access into Higham Ferrers and Rushden. The high volume of traffic combined with a lack of space on the roundabout results in severe congestion on the approaches at peak times.

The A45 Chowns Mill improvement scheme will:

  • Alleviate existing congestion and improve journey times by providing additional lanes
  • Improve safety by changing the junction layout and introducing traffic signals – managing the flow of traffic through the junction more effectively and reducing the chance of collisions
  • Provide better access for pedestrians and cyclists thanks to new signalled crossings which will make it safer to cross the junction.

As part of the scheme the junction will be redesigned as a half hamburger layout with a new link road connecting the A6 South and A5028 with the existing roundabout. This will allow a better flow of traffic reducing congestion through the junction. All approaches will be widened to provide extra lanes and increase capacity.

Highways England Project Manager Dean Holloway said:

“This much-needed improvement will bring huge benefits for road users, businesses and the local community as we take away this bottleneck and get traffic moving through here again.

“The upgrade will not only increase capacity and therefore reduce congestion, but it will also make the junction safer and improve the experience for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Highways England is hosting two public information events ahead of the main works starting for anyone who would like more details of the scheme and the chance to chat to a member of the project team.

Taking place on Wednesday 5 February and Saturday 8 February, the exhibitions will be held at the Carnell construction site office just off the Chowns Mill roundabout on the A6 (south) towards Rushden from 4-8pm on Wednesday and 11am to 4pm on Saturday.

Public parking will be available on site at the public exhibition events. There will also be a free half hourly public shuttle bus with disabled access operating from to/from the site from Hecham Way off Station Road (A5028) Higham Ferrers.

To maintain a safe environment for our work force and road users during the works, narrow lanes and a 40mph speed restriction will be in place both day and night. The A5028 Station Road, Higham Ferrers, will be closed for nine months as part of the improvements scheme.

Two weekend closures are planned for the A45 between Chowns Mill roundabout and Rushden Lakes both east and west bound. The closures will run from 8pm Friday 21 February to 5am Monday 24 February and during the same times the following weekend from 8pm Friday 28 February to 5am Monday 2 March

Work will take place at night for the first three months of the scheme to remove the A45 dual carriageway central islands and installing the narrow lanes which will enable traffic to continue to pass through the junction. Then work will take place during the day for the majority of the rest of the scheme.

Against brick walls: Metal-faced composite panels for construction

Modern Methods of Construction are a new broom sweeping through the UK building sector, with traditional brick walls starting to get brushed aside, according to a growing number of industry players

At a time when the majority in the sector are exploring alternative methods and materials, some companies are already experienced at using metal-faced composite panels for construction across a growing number of industry sectors.

Phil Montgomery, account manager at Hemsec, a leading manufacturer of such panels, says: “If the masses could see the ease of build and associated benefits when using composite panels then a growing number of builders would question the use of traditional building materials such as brick and block.”

Key structural uses: Panels made of steel and PIR

Composite foam injected PIR panels are ideal for products such as standard or bespoke classroom modules, toilet blocks and other educational annexes.  Schools are able to order with different configurations and finishes, greatly speeding up delivery and construction time. Blocks of flats, homes and commercial buildings are also being built using these panels.

Hemsec is known for working in partnerships with building designers and construction companies, so it becomes relatively simple for companies to work to highly cost-effective programmes.

Hemsec’s composite panels form an integral part of modular building methods, creating a strong, well-insulated and thermally efficient structure, which is also aesthetically pleasing. Although some customers are reluctant to move away from traditional building methods, the advantages are clear, especially in a transforming market where requirements change regularly.

The benefits of insulated panels v traditional methods

Speed of assembly

“The number one advantage is speed of assembly,” says Phil Montgomery. “The time on site is so much shorter and it can be programmed with confidence because it’s not weather-dependent. In the main, most modular buildings are constructed offsite in purpose-built factories, leaving minimal installation when the product goes to site.

“For example, a modular block of single-unit flats takes about 16-17 weeks as opposed to a year for traditional methods of construction, which is a huge advantage.

“Less time on site means more money made. It has always been a challenge to make money in construction, and any builder who can see a way of making more profit is going to find panels a good proposition. The fact that they also lead to better quality, more thermally efficient buildings, surely makes it a viable decision to start using these materials.”

Quality and safety of the build

Improved build quality is a major advantage, according to Phil Montgomery. The company’s customers report a tendency towards far fewer complaints from the end-users of panel-constructed buildings, probably because a panel doesn’t move once erected, therefore there is little or no chance of cracking. Water ingress is also highly unlikely to occur due to the panel’s physical closed-cell structure.

When it comes to safety, Hemsec is constantly testing its panels to a higher degree than almost anywhere else in the world, not only for fire performance, but also strength and adhesion. All the company’s panels hold a CE certificate and its SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) also hold the European Technical Assessment (ETA).

Phil Montgomery puts this into the construction context: “We have always been very strong in the refrigeration industry and our future in the construction markets is to diversify; there is an urgent need to provide low-energy, affordable buildings in the UK and Europe, and through our work with industry heads and influencers, we believe composite panels are a strong part of the solution.

“The CE accreditation and the SIPs’ additional ETA are critical to our ability to supply into this sector because the need to prove the safety case is absolute.”

Aesthetics and wellbeing

There is still an outdated notion that a building constructed using composite panels may appear like an ugly prefabricated house from the 1950s and 60s, but this could not be further from the truth. It is impossible to tell the difference between a panel-built house and one made of brick and plaster today.

“Anything you can build traditionally, you can build using modular methods,” says Chris Griffin, Hemsec’s commercial manager.

“I would go further and say they allow architects more flexibility to build even more creatively than with traditional methods. Since panels are thin but strong, the internal dimensions of a building are considerably larger and this gives the building’s occupants more space. This, in turn, leads to greater wellbeing.

“It’s also easier to make homes and factories accessible to those with disabilities and to be really creative about how a building looks because the panels are so flexible.”

Thermal efficiency

The greatest advantage to society of using insulated panels to create a building’s structure is its thermal efficiency and excellent U-value.

With global warming being a topic that’s not going to go away, it’s becoming imperative to consider ways of making buildings exponentially better insulated. Considering these panels are essentially the same as those used for creating cold stores and refrigeration units, it’s not difficult to grasp that they are equally efficient at keeping cold out and heat in.

This means buildings are much cheaper to heat, too – surely a huge boon for lower-paid householders and companies where making a profit is only going to get harder in the face of global competition.

Further details and to contact or 0151 426 7171


Owen Jones

Marketing Developer


Tel: +44 (0)151 426 7171

[email protected]

Twitter: HemsecPanels


Please note: this is a commercial profile.


New images released as next phase of Lower Thames Crossing consultation begins

New images showing plans for Britain’s longest road tunnel connecting Kent, Essex and Thurrock have been released as the project begins its next phase of public consultation today.

The further consultation into Highways England’s proposed Lower Thames Crossing will give people the chance to have their say on latest changes to the multi-billion pound project.

The changes have been made after detailed analysis of the 29,000 responses received during the last consultation held in 2018, and new technical information following surveys and ground investigations.

The Lower Thames Crossing will provide a new 14.3-mile 70mph road connecting Kent, Thurrock and Essex, with the world’s third-widest bored tunnel.

It will almost double road capacity across the River Thames east of London, connecting communities, reducing delays and providing more reliable journeys.

The eight-week consultation began today (00:01 29 January) and will end at 23:59 on 25 March.

People can respond in the consultation by visiting one of 20 events in Kent, Essex and Thurrock, by completing an online survey through the Lower Thames Crossing website, sending a form via Freepost, or sending an email.

Chris Taylor, Director of Highways England’s Complex Infrastructure Programme, said:

“The Lower Thames Crossing is Highways England’s most ambitious project in 30 years, designed to improve journeys across the southeast and open up new connections and opportunities for people and businesses.

“Getting the views of the local community and businesses is crucial to designing a project that will offer the best value, maximise the benefits for all, while reducing the impact on local communities and the environment. This consultation is a chance for people to review and comment on a number of changes made since our last consultation in 2018, and to help shape this once-in-a-generation project.”

The updates to the design include:

  • Providing direct access between Gravesend and the A2/M2 eastbound, and a redesigned Gravesend East junction and link roads to reduce congestion;
  • Extending the southern tunnel entrance (in Gravesend) 350 metres south to move the road away from properties in Chalk and reduce impact on protected bird habitats in the Ramsar Marshes and the Thames Estuary;
  • Removing the rest and service area and maintenance depot after further investigation and consideration of the issues raised during statutory consultation, which means the junction at Tilbury is no longer required;
  • Moving the alignment of the route between Tilbury and the A13 junction by approximately 60 metres (north-east) to avoid pylons and overhead cables;
  • Redesigning some slip roads around the A13/A1089 junction to move roads away from properties, improve safety at the junctions, and improve visual impact, and;
  • Removing one lane southbound between the M25 and A13 junction to reduce the amount of land required, while still providing sufficient capacity.

Other updated plans on show include:

  • More details on the construction plans for the Lower Thames Crossing;
  • A revised development boundary resulting from of the design changes, proposed utility diversions and additional land required for
    environmental mitigation, and;
  • A set of proposals for maintaining, improving and upgrading the walking, cycling and horse-riding network around the Lower Thames Crossing.

Once the consultation closes in March, Highways England will analyse the new responses ahead of finalising its plans to seek planning consent for the project, through submitting a Development Consent Order (DCO).

As part of the DCO application, Highways England will submit a Consultation Report, explaining how the issues raised during both consultations were considered and responded to.

To keep up to date with the latest travel information follow @HighwaysEAST on Twitter or visit

Wessex Water helping Bath Half go plastic free

Wessex Water will supply fresh tap water to Bath Half Marathon runners – part of a mission to make the race totally free of single-use plastics by 2021.

In a landmark new partnership called Refill Not Landfill, runners will be able to fill up their reusable bottles at Wessex Water’s HydroZones, with tap water stations also available to supply water in compostable cups during the race. 
Andrew Taylor, race director of the Bath Half, said: “We’ve always been conscious of our environmental footprint, and last year we announced we were embarking on a new challenge to eliminate single-use plastics from the race by 2021.  
“That’s why this partnership with Wessex Water makes perfect sense, and we’re excited to launch the Refill Not Landfill partnership with them. 
“We want to make it as easy as possible for runners on the day, with HydroZone refill points at various locations along the race route and biodegradable cups for those who prefer not to run with a bottle.”   
Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water’s head of community engagement, added: “We’re on a mission to reduce single-use plastics, installing water refill points across our region to encourage people to drink more tap water and avoid plastic bottles. 
So we’re proud to be keeping runners hydrated at this year’s Bath Half, becoming the first UK water company to partner with a road race of this scale.”

Huawei gets limited 5G network approval from UK Government

The interminable UK Supply Chain Review has now been concluded and while there might be limitations, it is pretty good news for under-fire Chinese vendor Huawei.

In short, vendors which are deemed ‘high-risk’ will not be able to provide equipment for the core of the UK’s 5G networks and will be limited to providing no more than 35% of the RAN equipment. These vendors will also be banned from providing equipment to Critical National Infrastructure or sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases.

There are limitations for Huawei which could prove to be awkward, and perhaps a step-down from the market dominance it exhibited in the 4G era, but this is still a significant win for the vendor.

“We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security,” said Digital Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan. “High-risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks.”

Morgan is not 100% correct in this statement. The EE core network uses Huawei equipment, and under the guidelines provided by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Huawei falls under the definition of a ‘high-risk vendor’. Either that, or the Government has and does not consider EE’s 4G network that important.

“The government has reviewed the supply chain for telecoms networks and concluded today it is necessary to have tight restrictions on the presence of high-risk vendors,” Morgan continued.

“This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now. It not only paves the way for secure and resilient networks, with our sovereignty over data protected, but it also builds on our strategy to develop a diversity of suppliers.”

The supporting documentation itself is perhaps just as interesting as the main announcement. The definition of ‘high-risk’ is effectively nuanced, not pointing the finger directly at Huawei or China. UK telcos will have three years to get below the 35% access equipment network share. This ratio could also be reduced in coming years as the market diversifies, most notably, if OpenRAN progresses at its current pace.

While the end of the Supply Chain Review will be celebrated throughout the UK telecoms industry, there are a still few unknowns:

  • What is the definition of Critical National Infrastructure? It is unclear whether the EE Emergency Services Network which is being constructed for the Home Office falls into this category
  • Will the 35% cap be applied to new equipment which is going in the network, or will it have to be back dated through the generations? Rip and replace will cause a significant headache
  • Could the 35% cap be too low to offer telcos leverage over other network infrastructure vendors and drive competition? Nokia and Ericsson now know it is effectively a duopoly for 65% of the RAN

Perhaps the most significant question is how this will impact the telcos and 5G deployment plans over the short- to mid-term.

O2’s network has been largely supplied by Ericsson and Nokia. EE is reliant on Huawei though there is healthy supplier diversity. Vodafone might find itself above the 35% cap, though it also works with Ericsson and Nokia. Three is in a precarious position as it has agreed to swap out Samsung equipment with Huawei to become its sole supplier of 5G RAN equipment.

Huawei is currently present in the EE 4G network core, though EE has already said it will search for a new supplier for its 5G core. None of the other MNOs have Huawei in the core.

On the fixed infrastructure side, Openreach currently only works with two suppliers for its access network, with Huawei being one. It has already begun the process of seeking a third supplier and should not be impacted too greatly by the announcement.

There are still grey areas to be addressed, but the conclusion of the Supply Chain Review is a monumental step forward for the UK telecoms industry. The I’s still need to be dotted and the T’s crossed, but this is huge progress towards the goal of clarity and continuity.


Nexus unveils new £362m trains for Tyne and Wear Metro

Nexus have announced Swiss company Stadler as their preferred bidder for a £362m contract to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

It is hoped the new fleet of trains will transform performance, passenger experience and deliver significant energy savings.

Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, had undertaken a year-long global search for a manufacturing partner to deliver 42 new trains up to 2024, settling finally on the Swiss-based company – who will manufacture the trains at their recently-opened factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.

However, despite being manufactured overseas, Nexus said more than 30 UK firms would be involved in supplying parts for the new trains – half of which were located in the North East.

Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “Our passengers expect the best in the world when they travel, and that is what they will get from our new trains.

“We asked for the best trains for the best price, based on what local people said they wanted to see, providing excellent reliability for years to come, transforming the passenger experience and delivering huge energy savings.

“Stadler has delivered on all fronts and the company will put in place new supply chains here in North East England and the UK securing local jobs. We look forward to working with our new partner and the extensive UK supply chain which will support them not just to build the new trains but maintain them over the next 35 years.”

The new trains, which are based on the ideas and suggestions of more than 3,000 passengers, will cut the Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing its 36 million passengers with modern features including wi-fi, charging points, air conditioning and a step change in accessibility.

Information screens will also be implemented throughout the train, as well as external destination screens and digital CCTV cameras.

As part of the wider benefits of the contract, a new £70m train depot featuring sedum roofing, rainwater recycling, daylight capture and other environmental features will also be constructed.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the Joint Transport Committee for North East England, said: “We have a bold vision for transport in North East England, and a world-class Metro system is the key to unlocking this transformation.

“We have secured Government investment in our region for new Metro trains which will meet the needs of our people for decades to come, secure hundreds of jobs and help us tackle the climate emergency.

“These new trains will be rooted in our region – they are designed based what more than 3,000 passengers told us what they wanted from their daily journey.  They will be built and brought into service by exploiting manufacturing excellence in new supply chains here in North East England and across the UK.  They will be maintained and operated by the proud workers who make Metro happen.”

Stadler Director of Sales, Ansgar Brockmeyer, added: “The contract with Nexus represents an important milestone for Stadler in Great Britain. After Glasgow and Liverpool, this is the third metro operator to opt for a Stadler vehicle. We look forward to working with Nexus and our suppliers in North East England.”

The initial order of 42 trains may be increased to 46 if Nexus plans to increase the frequency of Metro through the Flow Project, win Government funding.

The total value of the partnership between Nexus and Stadler, which will include decommissioning of the existing Metro fleet, could rise to £700m over 35 years, through a contract to maintain the new trains for up to 35 years depending on performance.

The Department for Transport will also provide revenue support to help meet the maintenance costs of the new trains.

IR35 – Recruiters Respond to HMRC Updates

The latest IR35 amends will give HMRC the right to seek unpaid tax and NI from incorrectly categorised contractors from the end-client – if an intermediary agency is unable to pay. Whilst this in theory offers some comfort and protection to agencies concerned mistakes could force financial ruin, some larger recruiters are concerned that small agencies could profit from non-compliance safe in the knowledge the end client is ultimately financially liable.

At Carrington West we have been operating pursuant to IR35 with our public sector clients for some time. Carrington West’s MD, James Fernandes says of the latest amends,

“Non-compliance has never been an option and serves no benefit to us, our contractors or our clients. It is far more likely that the end-clients will look to mitigate any risk of liability by tightening their talent supply chain, ensuring measures are put into place before they use our services. The result will be to force recruiters to supply evidence that they are accurately following the regulations when signing up contractors.”

This certainly seems to have been the case in Carrington West’s experience with public sector clients over the past three years. After an initial period of adjustment, James reflects,

“When IR35 was introduced for public sector contractors in 2017, it was widely reported that there was a mass exodus of contract workers looking for work elsewhere. It was true that many of our risk adverse public sector clients knee jerked by making blanket decisions to not engage contractors at all. However, the potential resultant lack of supply of talent to complete vital infrastructure projects meant for many this was not a sustainable model going forward. What we have seen to some extent, is major organisations switch to a more sustainable individual assessment model.

Perhaps most importantly, processes have been put in place that require assessments to be as accurate and rigorous as possible and contracts are negotiated to ensure that a worker falls outside of IR35 where there is a genuine need for that role to be fulfilled by a contractor.”

Whatever amendments are made over the coming weeks leading up to April 2020, IR35 is here to stay. Carrington West’s experience in the public sector has placed us in the unique position of already having the expertise and capabilities to guide contractors and clients through the changes and build a robust framework that mitigates risk whilst maximises access to much needed talent in the built environment sector.

James concludes by noting,

“Any recruiter that puts their head in the sand over IR35 is being very short sighted. The temporary and contract work force in all sectors in increasing as many people chose to work in more flexible or varied roles. By not being on board with IR35 or any future regulations that are bound to be introduced, recruiters will find themselves outside of the supply chain.”

New tech-enabled trains are putting passengers in control

Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20

Robert Nisbet, director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, looks ahead at the future of Interconnectivity of the Rail Industry.

This year, nine operators are introducing new and upgraded trains with better technology on board, which are part of the industry’s commitment to replace half of Britain’s train fleet new for old. This means more accurate information in advance, giving passengers greater control over their journeys.

New GPS-enabled trains will provide people with exact information about a train’s location, reducing instances of trains, predicted to be on time, suddenly showing as delayed. The location of older trains is only measured when they pass signals, which can be up to five miles apart. Chiltern, Grand Central, LNER and parts of Northern and ScotRail started using GPS last year and this improved data will feed into TrainMapper – a new system to track trains, powered by Google Maps, soon to launch on the National Rail website.

New technology can also tell people which carriages are emptier using data on footfall and reservations, and even where to stand on the platform to board the train. GTR’s Class 700 Thameslink trains are an example of where weighing technology is already telling passengers on board where to find carriages with more space. As new trains follow suit, passengers will get more and better information through screens at stations and their phones.

Passengers can also sign up to receive personalised information, making it easier to plan at stressful points in their journey. This includes suggestions for alternative routes during disruption through Facebook Messenger and ‘Alert Me’ in the National Rail app.

As 1,000 extra train carriages come on track in 2020, the nation’s fleet will grow from nearly 15,000 train carriages today to almost 16,000 by the end of the year. With more, tech-upgraded carriages, passengers will feel the benefits with more space, more frequent services and more information available at their fingertips.

Recently Robert Nisbet was a guest on our podcast, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming episode in the next couple of weeks.