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Forterra to spend £27m on high-end brick factory

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The investment will up production capacity by 20% or 6m bricks a year, including greater numbers of the famous Staffordshire blue bricks.

But in the short term the factory will be closed for 9 months in 2022, while a new kiln, dryers and handling equipment are installed.

Forterra also announced plans to close its general precast facility at Swadlincote, Derbyshire following a review of the Bison precast business.

The firm said: “Significant progress has been made in focusing upon added value products over commoditised grey concrete where margins have been under growing pressure.

“Focusing on a smaller range of higher value products will necessitate a reduction in the required production capacity and manpower and as such we have now taken the decision to close the general precast facility at Swadlincote.”

Production will now be focused on its Somercotes manufacturing facility in Derbyshire which is targeting higher margin modular façade products for the fast-growing off-site sector.

This encompasses both heavy precast concrete products such as brick-faced concrete sandwich panels and also its SureBrick mechanically fixed brick slip façade system and the Quickwall glued masonry solution.

Announcing the outcome of the strategic business review and strong first-half results, Stephen Harrison chief executive officer, said: “The current strong trading conditions appear set to continue in the second half of the year with our customer base signalling that they expect current levels of demand to continue.

“However, we remain watchful that ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding the longer-term impacts of the pandemic, coupled with the shorter-term effects of the present shortages of labour, materials and transport across the wider sector could potentially impact demand for our products.”

Harrison added that with production generally running at full capacity and with inventory levels across the industry now at historic lows there was little opportunity to significantly increase sales volumes in the short-term.

He said in order to ease pressure on deliveries Foterra had recently agreed to buy 20 delivery vehicles at the end of their lease term.

“With replacement new vehicles now arriving this will allow us to increase our fleet of specialised crane equipped delivery vehicles to 175, providing a valuable uplift in capacity once the additional drivers have been recruited and trained. ”

Over the first half, Forterra returned a £27m pre-tax profit after a £23m loss over the same period in 2020. Revenues from bricks and blocks are now slightly ahead of 2019 levels helping to restore revenue to £180m.

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Policing review says violence against women is as important as terrorism

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A new report says tackling violence against women must be considered as much of a priority for the police as anti-terrorism.

The report, undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), was commissioned by home Secretary Priti Patel in the wake of the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in March this year and recommends a “radical shift” in the way crimes against women and girls are considered.

It further expressed “grave concerns” regarding the number of cases closed without charge, “major gaps” in the data recorded on offences, and the “staggering” degree of variation in attitudes toward domestic abuse across police forces in England and Wales.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, the report’s author, Zoe Billingham HM Inspector of Constabulary said that, “ There is a real sense, I think, in the wake of this epidemic of violence, that enough is enough. There needs to be a whole new way of dealing with this and this is what we set out in our report today”.

Although acknowledging that the police had vastly improved in their response over the last 7 years, Billingham said, “We are not going to police our way out of the breadth and depth of the crimes that are being committed against women every day” stating that “we think there needs to be an uplift in the prioritisation of the violence against women crimes”.

The report also found that the total of investigations into sexual attacks against women shelved because of ‘evidential difficulties’ tripled from 4,326 cases in 2014-15 to 13,395 in 2019-20, a figure Billingham described as “eye-wateringly” high.

She went on to argue that some sexual predators and domestic abusers are ‘laughing’ at the law, as police will often not act against people who have repeatedly breached non-molestation orders.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Labour MP and former minister Harriet Harman said she gave “all credit to the Home Secretary” for commissioning the review, but said she hoped the government would now take action as a result of the findings, and said the home office must “immediately tackle domestic violence a priority in the strategic policing requirement – which at the moment it isn’t”.

She also said it was “completely not acceptable” that Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who has attracted controversy due to her comments on gender self-identification, may not attend the Labour Party conference due to fear of personal safety.

Ahead of the report’s release, shadow minister for domestic violence Jess Phillips said via Twitter:

“So who is now the Home Office Minister for safeguarding with responsibility for the biggest violent crime type in the UK? Because tomorrow there is a report coming from the inspectorate in to how well that’s going, so they better get reading pretty quick.”

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SNIPEF boosts industrial relations support

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The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) has strengthened its industrial relations advisory service with a new appointment.

Read Full Article: The Construction Index

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McLaren wins new Aston Martin F1 factory race

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The Enquirer understands McLaren will deliver the £200m project which will see construction of a new factory and testing wind tunnel at the new headquarters for the Formula One team.

Building work will take 18 months on the scheme designed by Ridge and Partners LLP

Three buildings across 400,000 sq ft will house the team’s design, manufacturing and marketing resource, the brand-new wind tunnel and a factory and logistics centre.

McLaren declined to comment.

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