Find something wood and sit on it

14 July 2017

"Find something wood and sit on it!"

This has been a pivotal week for the British Woodworking Federation and our membership.  It started on Monday morning at around 4:00am when our Technical and Schemes Manager Hannah Mansell was picked up by a BBC car to talk Fire Doors, Passive Fire Protection and The Responsible Person on Radio 5’s Wake up to Money

On Tuesday, I was up, presenting to the assembled masses (well over 100) of the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.  The chairman called the meeting to order with the phrase, “people please, the coffee break is over, find something wood and sit on it!”.   It gave me the perfect opening to my presentation - “if only we could turn THAT message into policy I’d be happy”.  

In seriousness, it was a real privilege to be asked to be the business speaker for the day, largely off the back of our submission to the Industrial Strategy.  The focus of my talk was how regulators can work more effectively with Trade Bodies to implement better regulation.   I hope that some of the points I made hit home - at the end of the day we (the civil service and ourselves) are all on the same side, working to ensure that the playing field is level, legislation is fair, responsibilities clear and enforcement effective.  We stand ready to work more closely with colleagues at BEIS to help wrestle to the ground some of the political jostling that currently blights progress and ensure that we have a timber industry in the UK that works for everyone, delivers good skilled and well-paid jobs, creates conditions for competitive, world-leading businesses to prosper and grow right across the UK.

Wednesday saw us in Westminster again, this time reconstituting the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber.  This gives a clear dialogue between our Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) and Government.  I honestly believe the CTI is starting to help us catapult our issues to the top of the pile and our involvement has contributed to helping raise awareness of the sizable woodworking sector in the UK.  

Around all of this, the usual fighting the good fight, manning the helplines and inducting our new and very enthusiastic training manager Tony continued.  Tony this week set in motion the vital process to fulfil our responsibilities to the CITB Consensus Process (if you haven’t please ensure that whoever leads on training in your business does complete this short online survey).  My own view is absolutely in accord with Anne Milton MP, Lord Prior, Alok Sharma MP in their letter to the CITB Chairman this week:

“As Mark Farmer set out starkly in his report last year, the construction industry faces some very significant challenges over the coming years, including improving productivity, increasing house-building, and making sure it develops the workforce with the skills it will need in the coming decades. We support his conclusion that the CITB has an important role to play in supporting the industry to meet those challenges, and also that the industry needs to provide stronger leadership to make sure it gets what it needs from the CITB, both informing and supporting its plans. We have, to that end, encouraged closer dialogue between the Construction Leadership Council and the CITB. “

So busy times at the BWF, but it is great when hard work is rewarded with recognition and the media, civil service and Parliamentarians have all recognised this week the import of our industry and the pivotal role BWF play in representing it.

Iain McIlwee
Chief Executive
British Woodworking Federation

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