Readers’ comments: Persimmon quality checks, HS2, Laing’s historic photos

29 January 2020

HS2’s Old Oak Common hub in west London

Independent report criticises Persimmon quality checks

CM 17/12

Persimmon has and always will be driven by profit. Its main stakeholders are shareholders. It has rewarded directors handsomely on turnover and I’m sure that will continue. If Persimmon is serious about quality it will employ more qualified staff on site to support the site manager and improve overall quality.

Denis Barry

Credit to Persimmon for commissioning an independent report (albeit, I’m sure, after some customer pressure). How many other volume housebuilders have similar build quality issues? A good many I would suggest, and some of these hide behind a ‘PR screen’ instead of confronting the truth.

The construction industry, in all its guises, continues to suffer from poor quality control and numerous attempts to improve have yet to bear fruit. Sadly, skills shortages only make the risk of defects greater.

Perhaps the remuneration committees of large construction companies need to reward their senior staff more for customer satisfaction/quality and less for profit.

David Kearney

Our clerk of works inspects their plots for housing associations. We’ve been telling them these issues for years!

Paul Jacobs

HS2 specification ‘unnecessarily high’, says Lord Berkeley

CM 06/01 

The suggested number of passengers travelling on HS2 travel based on the number of trains per hour is very unlikely to be achieved.

If that number of people need to travel, then British business is very inefficient and not using modern communications.

The budget for HS2 would be better spent on improving the present network.

Roger Ward

Could it be that Lord Berkeley does not understand the chief benefit of HS2, as I did not until it was explained to me recently?

Lord Berkeley says economists increasingly agree that far greater economic growth and increases in productivity would be achieved by public investment in rail, road and bus services that increase the ‘travel to work’ areas of our major cities in the Midlands and the north than by any new major north-to-south high-speed intercity services.

But that is exactly what HS2 does. It takes the fast trains off the existing lines and frees them up for a huge increase in slow/stopping services, which are the ‘travel to work’ services that Lord Berkeley refers to.

Adam Dowling 

John Laing releases historic construction photos

CM 13/01

Brilliant. There are other companies out there that ought to consider a similar idea. We don’t want to lose information like this. Maybe CIOB could set up something on their website. I could see this becoming something really big.

Sean Morgan

A great idea. Nostalgic. I did not work on those projects but it brought to mind Easiform housing at St Budeaux, Plymouth, Portishead power station (I still have a framed picture of the turbine hall), and later copper mines in Northern Rhodesia and also various civils jobs in South Africa. All fondly remembered work and colleagues.

Colin Emsley 

Many individuals will also have worthwhile contributions from the pre-digital era.

Chris Purves 

These photos are fantastic, especially the one with the young boy and the man. The boy and the man viewing Coventry Cathedral – we think we are so clever installing viewing panels in the hoarding – so credit to John Laing site management to have this vision.

Denis Lawler

Combustibles ban on blinds and shutters quashed

CM 17/12

The UK is way behind the rest of Europe in the use of external blinds/shutters to reduce overheating and provide security. As our summers heat up, we will need to overcome our design prejudices and use them as standard.

Glad to see that the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is considering the issue - although I am sure that metal blinds are a non-combustible option anyway.

Rosemary Slater


It is difficult to see that HS2 in fact will do anything beyond its utility as a construction project. What the current railway has is semi-fast trains at best; it has ceased to try and run at the theoretical limit of a 125mph railway, which is about 110mph average speed between cities. It once did try, but it no longer does.

The red herring of capacity release is just that. The ability to mix train speeds on the conventional railway was one of the capacity features - relief lines, loops and alternative routes - ruthlessly eliminated 1960-90 on grounds of cost. LGV- type lines don't attempt it because of the effect upon capacity, which is dramatic. Many lines with more than two tracks - the GW out of Paddington for example - don't have platforms on the up and down main, and crossovers to and from the relief lines are mostly absent, for exactly that capacity collapse reason.

On busy double track lines you can either have, as in Leeds to Machester via Huddersfield, a semi-fast service of trains at 65mph, or on the same route via Halifax and Rochdale, an all stations parliamentary service at 40. On the latter you can mix in some freight.

How any of that is going to attract one person out of their car, or a freight forwarder to consider, much less use, rail, is a mystery to me. Journey times outside the rush hour will not be competitive unless HS2's first station is 200 miles out of Euston. And how are you going to get there...? Crossrail 2 at another £100bn+?, Midland Metro extensions, new metro for Leeds... None will come for free, and all will be out of the taxpayer's pocket with no possibility of - for most of us - even a useful ride.

HS2. How to lift your transport carbon emissions to new heights, without even running a single train. A bad start for King Boris if he bottles this decision.

owen jordan, 3 February 2020

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