A P B Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by A P B Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from A P B Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Andy Graham, managing
director: “Our strength is our
Lifting in one of 18 FRP
panels for a 106-metre
bridge extension to
Bromley Heath Viaduct
APB Group Limited is a thriving civil engineering company,
which has been trading for over 30 years from the heart
of the UK, headquartered in Cheadle, Staffordshire. The
team is headed by Andy Graham, managing director, and his
wife Heather, the company’s business and finance director. The
company has a wealth of expertise, demonstrable across a wide
range of civil engineering, geotechnical and construction projects.
It prides itself on the quality of workmanship provided by the skills
of its multitalented in-house team, which is technically innovative,
committed, versatile and responsive. The diversity of its
operations has been a source of critical acclaim, with successfully
managed projects over a number of sectors throughout the UK.
Our portfolio is impressive, and our client base includes many prestigious and
leading UK blue chip organisations, including Network Rail, Balfour Beatty, Galliford
Try, Farrans, AMCO, Murphys, the Canal & River Trust, the National Trust, English
Heritage and BAM Nuttall, as well as a number of local authority clients. We have a
loyal and expanding customer base, with a high percentage of repeat business, and
have also been a holder of the much-sought-after principal contractor’s licence for
Network Rail for over 12 years.
Our management and delivery teams take pride in their ownership of all projects
– each and every project, no matter how big or small, is approached in exactly the
same way. This is reflected in our ethos and philosophy, which applies to every
single venture we undertake: “to deliver successfully on programme within budget
and on time”.
»Managing director:
»Business and finance director:
Heather Graham
»Established in 1986
»Based in Cheadle,
»Services: Civil engineering,
geotechnical engineering and
»No. of employees: Around 50
»Turnover: £5 million to
»APB apprenticeship scheme
driven by Tritech Rail (Training)
APB Group Limited
Highlighting best practice
»Bromley Heath Viaduct, Bristol. Client: Farrans Construction.
Main client: Gloucester county council. Value: £2.5 million.
»Thorney Lane Bridge reconstruction, Slough. Client: Balfour Beatty.
Rail main client: Network Rail. Value: £500,000. Duration: 6months.
»West of Warrington new railway station. Client: Balfour Beatty.
Main client: Warrington borough council. Value: £3 million.
Duration: 15 months.
»Federation Road waste site improvements, Stoke-on-Trent.
Client: Galliford Try. Main client: Stoke-on-Trent city council.
Value:£300,000. Duration: 15 weeks.
Market sectors and skills
We often complete projects in the
highways, rail, canals and water
industries, where the scheme typically
requires a broad knowledge of
many disciplines in small amounts.
In the construction industry, our
work includes plant operation, in
situe reinforced concrete, piling and
geotechnical, concrete and masonry
or brickwork repairs, steelwork
fabrication, temporary works,
demolition, dismantling, lifting out,
lifting in, waterproofing, and finishing.
This broad range of areas we work
across often comes in tandem with
specialist systems, including fibre
reinforced polymer (FRP) fabrication,
spray-applied concrete and gunite.
We often find ourselves facing difficult
access and logistical challenges,
which, when it comes to high-risk
programmes, means our projects are
all diverse, challenging and varied.
In a typical example of a railway bridge
reconstruction, we were given a 24-
hour window to complete removal
of an existing bridge deck after track
removal, reduce all abutments down
to a sound formation level, install new
precast cill units, load these onto a
new bridge deck – including individual
beams, a new steel superstructure or
new precast concrete portal units –
add waterproofing, and replace wing
wall units and across-deck services.
This amount of work in such a short
space of time requires cutting-edge and
hands-on management, planning and
execution to deliver, especially when
considering significant penalties for
failure to complete on time. Typical rail
delay costs can be thousands of pounds
per minute of overrun; to undertake
these projects effectively, ownership
must be a company watchword, for it
has the greatest effect on success.
Without exception, every one of
these schemes has seen numerous
technical queries submitted from us,
through the client, to the designer. We
tend to challenge the design where
appropriate, or try to suggest a more
effective way of achieving the desired
result. Moreover, in every one of these
schemes, our management team have
collaborated with clients and designers
to ensure successful delivery.
The key to our longevity and continued
success is our willingness to take
ownership of all projects we undertake.
In a world of large conglomerates and
key players, especially in this market,
companies like us have a niche for our
collaborative and personal approach –
we’re very much at the coal face, and
ensure that each and every member
of the team feels valued. As a result,
we have seen our projects consistently
delivered on time and within
Placing panels in the
largest FRP span ever
undertaken in Europe
The key to our
longevity and
success is our
willingness to
ownership of
all projects we
We at APB personally believe that we
have the flexibility to be a chameleon,
with the ability to reinvent ourselves
while continually developing and
responding to industry changes. We
started our life in mining contracting,
and have since been able to hone our
skills in the civil engineering market
with the demise of the coal industry.
Future challenges
Going forward, the country needs to
focus on a different balance between
education and its links with industry,
commerce and the government.
There’s something of a legacy
hangover from successive governments
that has remained a challenge.
Research would suggest that too much
focus has been placed on encouraging
young people into university education,
while apprenticeships alongside
technical and industry training have
fallen by the wayside somewhat.
Graduates are coming into the
industry as inexperienced managers
with limited technical experience and
knowledge. Our industry could gain so
much from the increase in work-based
training alongside specialised academic
development. Government, industry
and education need to work together
to change this focus.
We are keen to expand and further
develop our own apprenticeship
scheme, which is driven by our
associate company Tritech Rail
(Training) Limited. We are constantly
searching for young people who can
demonstrate a positive work ethic
while also possessing the attitude and
aptitude required to join our team.
We feel that we have responded to
the rigours of successfully operating in
the unpredictable construction sector,
and take great pride in our policies
and performance, which reflect our
exacting standards. We continue to
have much to offer both our clients
and our long-standing workforce – our
ethos, strong financial management
and controlled development will safely
see that we compete in the market for
future decades.
Larger companies are starting to
recognise the need to engage more
closely with supply chain partners
such as SMEs of our nature. This will
help them to expand their skillset,
and to offer further development of
these principles, which will strengthen
this sector for future generations, all
working hand in hand, and bolster
We at APB
believe that
we have the
flexibility to
respond to
Working around the clock on the River Teme to construct
emergency foundations and piers to decrease flood risk
Initial works to install
the foundations for the
new station platforms
at Warrington railway


This article was sponsored by A P B Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy