In this series we shed some light on some of the key people who are involved with or give their time to support JCT, to ensure that all areas of the construction industry are represented and can contribute to the development of our contracts. We will look at how our interviewees contribute to JCT specifically, and gain their views on JCT’s wider role within the industry.
BSc (Hons) MRICS
Member, JCT Council, LGA representative
Member, JCT BIM Working Group
Design and construction manager,
Denbighshire County Council
Sion is Denbighshire County Council’s design and construction manager who has worked in the public sector for over 25 years. He began his career as a civil engineer before moving over to the quantity surveying section and gained Chartered status in 2006.
Since 2011, Sion has led the Council’s in-house design consultancy team who are responsible for the design, procurement and management of all building construction projects for the authority from £50k refurbishment projects to £25m new build high schools.
Prior to his current role, Sion has worked as project quantity surveyor, contract administrator, employer’s agent and project manager on numerous construction projects covering education, regeneration, housing, leisure, and conservation projects.
An active member of the regional North Wales Design Group, Sion is also the current chair of CLAW (Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales), an organisation that represents the professional property divisions of the 22 Welsh local authorities.
JCT: Sion, how did you first come to be involved with JCT? Why do you think it is important to be involved?
SE: I initially became involved with JCT in 2009 through the SCQS (Society of Construction and Quantity Surveyors), an organisation that represent local authority quantity surveyors. Dr Andrew Flood, a recently retired member of JCT approached the SCQS to enquire if there were members who would be interested in joining the Client’s College representing the LGA. Having been a user of JCT contracts for many years I felt it was an excellent opportunity and one that I was extremely pleased to accept.
As an LGA member I feel it is important that the public sector’s views and priorities are represented within the standard contracts. Being a part of the JCT Council and various working groups allows the public sector’s voice to be heard and helps shape the contracts going forward.
JCT: Can you tell us about any specific work you’re currently doing with JCT?
SE: As well as a council member, I have also been a member of several working groups over the years.
I’m currently sitting on the BIM Working Group which is tasked with ensuring that JCT’s suite of contracts is structured in such a way that enables BIM to be seamlessly integrated into projects. BIM is increasingly gathering momentum and becoming more important to the building process. Having the facility to incorporate BIM into standard forms with ease is crucial to its successful integration into building projects.
JCT: Do you have any personal career highlights?
SE: Working in local authority for over 25 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a wide range of different building projects (new building and refurbishment) varying from education, housing, leisure and heritage schemes, to major civil engineering projects. However one significant project that stands out is the development of the first North Wales Construction Framework which was established in 2013 to deliver the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Programme. The brief was to establish a regional collaborative procurement vehicle to facilitate the delivery of the Welsh Educational Building Programme. I was appointed as the technical lead responsible for setting up this collaborative framework between the six North Wales Authorities, which, once established, saw over £270m worth of building projects procured. Interestingly the majority of projects procured utilised a JCT standard form. The North Wales Framework went on to win the Constructing Excellence Wales Award for collaboration in 2016 and has now paved the way for the second generation of the framework.
JCT: What are you most proud of about the construction industry as a whole and where do you think it most needs to improve?
SE: During my time in the industry I’ve witnessed many changes, especially in terms of improved relationships between parties. Whilst it’s important to ensure we have clear robust contracts in place, a collaborative partnering approach to project delivery, in my opinion, can’t be underestimated, and often contributes towards the success of a project. The industry is embracing this approach however I feel we can still do much more.
JCT: What do you see as the main challenges for the construction industry over the next five years?
SE: Who can say what the next five years will bring especially with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, however there is certainly an immediate need to plug the skills gap that exists in the industry both in terms of construction trades and the professional services sector.
In Wales one of our priorities is to ensure our capital projects deliver community benefits and ensure that every pound spent on construction is inwardly invested to maximise positive impact to the communities and region especially in terms of supporting employment and training needs.
One of my priorities as the chair of CLAW (Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales) is to work with colleagues across local authorities to consider what role property departments within local authorities can play in increasing interest in construction related careers and dealing with the current skills gap.
JCT: Does JCT have a wider role to play in the industry beyond producing contracts?
SE: Yes I believe it does, the JCT is a well respected and established organisation.
The structure of the JCT is unique, in that it provides a voice for all sections of the construction industry in the development of its contracts. This collaborative approach to producing contract documents should in itself be seen as an excellent example of partnership working.
Promoting good practice within the industry is something that JCT does well and should continue to do, whether that be through training events, preparing best practice documents, education or promoting construction as a career choice. JCT has certainly got a wider role to play in the industry than simply producing contracts.