Opinion: Surely all non-essential work should stop

Construction work is not essential says Save Swiss Cottage's Janine Sachs.

Construction work is not essential says Save Swiss Cottage's Janine Sachs. - Credit: Archant

On April 2 Alok Sharma, the secretary of state for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, confirmed that the Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) are aligned with Public Health England (PHE) guidance that must be implemented in the workplace.

In response to feedback, the Site Operating Procedures Version 2 has now been published to include:

• Clarification that “where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by two metres then work should not be carried out”.

Since then, the Construction Leadership Council has reacted to pressure from the construction industry and issued this statement: “There has been significant feedback on the updated Site Operating Procedures Version 2. Whilst the feedback is reviewed the CLC has reissued Version 1, which is the document the industry should be complying with”.

Version 1 says: “There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres. • Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out.”

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The wording is so vague and open to interpretation as to render the ruling non-existent; there is nothing to comply with.

The CLC even admits that it will not always be safe to apply the two-metre rule – all the more reason to stop construction - to stay safe.

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Why would anything other than essential physical work be carried out on a building site?

Or could this mean that non-essential work should not be carried out at all?

Meanwhile, developers Essential Living relentlessly continue to put the lives of their construction crew and the rest of the population at risk by forging ahead with their Swiss Cottage tower at 100 Avenue Road regardless.

Since last week’s press coverage on their construction workers’ distinct lack of social distancing, they have now boarded up the viewing portholes into the site where last week there was only plastic through which a local resident somehow managed to take these telling photographs.

Meanwhile crops are dying in the fields because there is no one to pick them, schools are closed, businesses across the UK are floundering, GP and dental surgeries have closed, all non-critical, non-Covid-19 medical procedures are being cancelled.

The elderly and vulnerable are isolating and afraid in their homes, some very ill with little help.

Ambulances are going up and down the Finchley Road as the UK death toll from Covid-19 is rapidly rising.

In great earnest we call upon the government not to bow to pressure from angry construction bosses and vested interests and to immediately implement a speedy return to Version 2, which in turn will lead to the suspension of all non-essential construction sites, which will in turn help keep us all safe.

(The Ham&High approached Essential Living for comment but had no reply)

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