Ministers urged to help North's construction industry

Stormont ministers were urged today get their act together and help the construction industry as a record decline in building activity in the North was revealed.

The latest Construction Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors made unpleasant reading as the global gloom and downturn bit deeper.

Construction workloads fell over the third quarter at their fastest rate since the survey was launched in 1996.

The North suffered the biggest decline in construction work of any region in the UK across a range of sectors including housing, commercial and industrial.

Expected profit margins were also most depressed in the province, said the RICS.

The professional body made clear problems were made worse by the moribund administration which has made no decisions in months while its Executive fails to meet amid a dispute over the devolution of policing and justice powers between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists.

The politicians were urged to get a move on and unblock delays in the delivery of public sector projects which could provide vital work to stop the rot in the industry.

RICS Northern Ireland chairman John Davidson said that planned public construction projects had been beset with delays and dilution.

It was exacerbating the challenges facing the industry resulting from the residential property slow down and the credit crunch.

“The RICS Construction Market Survey for the third quarter of 2008 underscores the sever challenges the construction industry is currently facing in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Urging action by Stormont he added: “The Executive locally has no control over the very significant global pressures that are at play.

“However it can act to ensure that public sector construction work is delivered more effectively.

“At present problems with procurement, planning delays and other issues are resulting in significant hold-ups to projects that should already be on site.

“Ensuring the swift delivery of these projects is a matter of significant public interest.”

Overall UK construction workloads declined at their fastest pace in the survey’s 14 years history, with 38% more chartered surveyors reporting a fall than a rise.

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