The 1st of March saw the annual trip to the Leeds Armouries for the IDE Spring Seminar. Yet another busy event with a good mix of industry professionals delivering interesting and informative presentations.

For his first Leeds event, IDE President, Gary Bishop FIDE welcomed the packed auditorium to Leeds before undertaking the unfortunate task of asking the attendees to stand for a minute’s silence in honour of an industry stalwart and a great friend and colleague to many, Liebherr’s Darren Bennet who sadly and suddenly passed away in January.

On to the main event with Mr Bishop announcing that membership of the Institute continues to grow, now over 400 qualified individuals. “One worrying statistic is that there are certain individuals within that membership who have not undertaken any form of CPD and we will be writing to them to ask them to rectify this.” Mr Bishop commented. On a more upbeat note, the success of the collaboration between the University of Wolverhampton and the IDE to bring the first Demolition Degree forward was noted as a great triumph for the industry.

Opening the event were Richard Dolman and Patricia Sloneczny from AR Demolition Ltd carrying on from Gary Bishop’s praise of the degree course. Both Dolman and Sloneczny are studying the course and wanted to get across to the attendees the benefits of undertaking the degree. “It’s not just good for personal development, but the knowledge gathered on the course benefits everyone.” Mr Dolman commented “It has taken a long time to get to this position and the course will only see it benefit the professionalism of the whole industry bringing us in-line with other professional bodies.” The first intake of students is now into their second year with a full intake of students about to start their studies. Mrs Sloneczny spoke about her challenges and doubts over her personal ability for taking the course; something she said that was quickly dispelled. “It was a big leap to start the degree as neither myself, or Richard are academically minded. We have both found the course to be extremely fulfilling and rewarding.” Mr Dolman finished off by saying that many potential students were put off by the potential costs of studying but this shouldn’t be a barrier as the grants which are available will cover the tuition fees.

A step away from demolition came with second speaker, Bob Woosnam-Savage. The curator of armour and edged weapons gave a very interesting and sometimes gory description of the potential death of Richard III. The last king of the House of York was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field and it was the work of Woosnam-Savage that discovered the savage killing of the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.

As one of the largest demolition contractors in the UK, Erith Group has undertaken some impressive and complex projects, one of them being their recent completion of the former cinema complex at London’s Marble Arch. Operations Director Grant Styles took to the stage to speak about the company’s methodology to safely dismantle what was once the largest single screen cinema in the country. Faced with large amounts of asbestos and large cantilevered concrete beams, Mr Styles spoke about the immense input from the structural engineering team at Swanton whose work to design the safe methods of propping to both the structure during the demolition work and the surrounding busy London streets enabled the team to deliver another successful project.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme was next on the agenda with David Watson representing the Scheme talking about the importance of companies portraying a project to a certain level. “Everyone thinks of the construction industry as a dirty one, something it certainly isn’t these days.” Mr Watson said “We need to change perceptions in a bid to attract new people into the industry and to promote the good work our members do.” Mr Watson spoke about the positive impact and high standards achieved by its members and was very keen to work alongside IDE member companies.

Unfortunately, NFDC CEO Howard Button was unable to make the event to talk about the recent and upcoming changes to the CCDO card scheme. A worthy substitute in the NDTG’s Iain Kirk who spoke about the issues facing the demolition industry over the changes. Advice was given on the Go-Smart app which provides the capability to read both physical and virtual CSCS/CCDO cards. The conclusion of Mr Kirk’s presentation focused on the forthcoming Trailblazer Scheme and the acceptance of the NFDC/NDTG into becoming an approved supplier to the Armed Forces.

Following lunch, regular seminar speaker and author Sarah Fox spoke about the intricacies and importance of the NEC4 form of contract. Offering detailed and invaluable advice on following procedures of this popular form of contract to the audience, Ms Fox spoke at length about the importance of understanding the obligations of a contractor to communicate effectively, responsibly and in a timely fashion to avoid issues further down the line.

Sardinia was the next stop with RVA’s Ian Wharton detailing the company’s involvement with the demolition of a power station on the island. Working alongside a variety of nationalities, dealing with environmental constraints and the issue of working within an area not used to explosive demolition and its capabilities. Mr Wharton concluded by saying that the contract was completed to the full satisfaction of all interested parties.

Concluding the day’s events was Gillian Elvy, Membership Manager North for the Institute of Civil Engineers. Speaking about the need for professionals to be able to promote and shout about their qualifications, Mrs Elvy called on individuals working within the demolition environment to work towards a professional qualification, something that the degree courses are able to offer. “There is a need for the industry to have confidence in an individual’s competence within their given field.”

The Institute of Demolition Engineers would like to thank the speakers and the many trade members who took the time to attend the event and look forward to welcoming everyone at Demo Expo at the Herts Showground on the 4th to the 6th of July and to One Great George Street, London for the Autumn Seminar on the 26th of September.

Author and Photography: RPA Photography