Woodexperts

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Woodexperts'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 Woodexperts 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.woodexperts.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | WOODEXPERTS
Director James Coulson
Logs for peeling into veneers for
plywood at a mill in Sumatra
Woodexperts’ Director Jim Coulson is a chartered
environmentalist, a fellow of the Institute of
Materials, Minerals and Mining, a fellow of the
Faculty of Building and a qualified wood scientist. With over
40 years’ experience in the wood industries, he established the
company as a consultancy practice based in North Yorkshire,
providing technical and training solutions for the timber and
construction industries. Jim tells
The Parliamentary Review
more
about its international operations.
I have been a consultant in all technical matters concerning the design,
specification, supply and use of wood and wood-based products for over 40 years.
I founded Woodexperts, a consultancy practice which operates worldwide, in 1991.
We currently have clients in Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Romania, Sweden,
China, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as other technical contacts in Australia,
Canada, Malaysia and the USA. Of course, we also have many clients around
all parts of the UK – ranging from timber importers and merchants to structural
engineers, architects and designers.
We also undertake expert witness work – usually involving site investigations as
part of a legal dispute – and I have appeared in court many times, including the
Technology and Construction Court and the Old Bailey. I also sit on a number of
technical committees, including British and European Standards Advisory Groups;
and Woodexperts is a member of the Confederation of Timber Industries, as
a member of which we attend meetings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group
ontimber.
FACTS ABOUT
WOODEXPERTS
»Director: Jim Coulson
»Founded in 1991
»Based in North Yorkshire
»Services: Consultancy, training
and certification in timber and
wood-based products
»No. of employees: 7
Woodexperts
47WOODEXPERTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Export and trade
In the referendum on membership
of the EU, I voted to remain. That
was not only because my company
has – and has had, over the years – a
considerable number of European
clients, and of course, travelling in
Europe is immensely easy at present,
with its frictionless borders; but it is
also because the UK is a huge net
importer of wood goods from all
sources – Europe among them. In the
future, we will need to continue as an
importing nation, because we cannot
ever produce anything like the number
of wood-based products that we
require, especially in construction.
In a typical year, the UK imports around
ten million cubic metres of softwoods
and a similar number of wood-based
panels, the vast majority of which come
from European sources: principally
Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Finland and
Sweden. We also get other engineered
wood products from Austria, Denmark,
France and Germany. Therefore, we
need Europe, in order to be able to
build our homes and our warehouses
and our office blocks out of timber and
wood-based products – and we cannot
afford to be restricted in our supplies,
or to face extra import tariffs on those
wood-based products.
Even though it has been argued that
we can establish trade deals with the
rest of the world outside Europe, we
rely heavily upon European Standards
to ensure that those outside products
comply with technical standards that
have been agreed across the EU.
Without that specification oversight, we
will very probably return to the old days
of cheap, nasty imports that perform
badly in service. In one sense, it would
be quite good for my own company
since there would inevitably be an
increase in litigation concerning poor-
quality wood goods that do not comply
with the specification, whatever that
specification might be in the future.
UK – education and training
Leaving aside the debate about Europe,
it is worth discussing the state of both
technical and vocational education
and training in the UK and the way
in which it has steadily deteriorated
since the 1970s. Before the 1979
general election, there were a number
of industry training boards which, by
law, obtained a levy from companies in
scope. The companies involved then got
that money back by applying for a grant
to put employees onto appropriate
courses. Soon after the Conservative
government came to power in 1979,
Inspecting veneers for
plywood manufacture in
Indonesia, bearing the
Woodexperts Diamond
Mark quality certification
logo
We will need to
continue as an
importing
nation, because
we cannot ever
produce
anything like the
number of
wood-based
products that
we require
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | WOODEXPERTS
Director James Coulson
Logs for peeling into veneers for
plywood at a mill in Sumatra
Woodexperts’ Director Jim Coulson is a chartered
environmentalist, a fellow of the Institute of
Materials, Minerals and Mining, a fellow of the
Faculty of Building and a qualified wood scientist. With over
40 years’ experience in the wood industries, he established the
company as a consultancy practice based in North Yorkshire,
providing technical and training solutions for the timber and
construction industries. Jim tells
The Parliamentary Review
more
about its international operations.
I have been a consultant in all technical matters concerning the design,
specification, supply and use of wood and wood-based products for over 40 years.
I founded Woodexperts, a consultancy practice which operates worldwide, in 1991.
We currently have clients in Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Romania, Sweden,
China, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as other technical contacts in Australia,
Canada, Malaysia and the USA. Of course, we also have many clients around
all parts of the UK – ranging from timber importers and merchants to structural
engineers, architects and designers.
We also undertake expert witness work – usually involving site investigations as
part of a legal dispute – and I have appeared in court many times, including the
Technology and Construction Court and the Old Bailey. I also sit on a number of
technical committees, including British and European Standards Advisory Groups;
and Woodexperts is a member of the Confederation of Timber Industries, as
a member of which we attend meetings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group
ontimber.
FACTS ABOUT
WOODEXPERTS
»Director: Jim Coulson
»Founded in 1991
»Based in North Yorkshire
»Services: Consultancy, training
and certification in timber and
wood-based products
»No. of employees: 7
Woodexperts
47WOODEXPERTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Export and trade
In the referendum on membership
of the EU, I voted to remain. That
was not only because my company
has – and has had, over the years – a
considerable number of European
clients, and of course, travelling in
Europe is immensely easy at present,
with its frictionless borders; but it is
also because the UK is a huge net
importer of wood goods from all
sources – Europe among them. In the
future, we will need to continue as an
importing nation, because we cannot
ever produce anything like the number
of wood-based products that we
require, especially in construction.
In a typical year, the UK imports around
ten million cubic metres of softwoods
and a similar number of wood-based
panels, the vast majority of which come
from European sources: principally
Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Finland and
Sweden. We also get other engineered
wood products from Austria, Denmark,
France and Germany. Therefore, we
need Europe, in order to be able to
build our homes and our warehouses
and our office blocks out of timber and
wood-based products – and we cannot
afford to be restricted in our supplies,
or to face extra import tariffs on those
wood-based products.
Even though it has been argued that
we can establish trade deals with the
rest of the world outside Europe, we
rely heavily upon European Standards
to ensure that those outside products
comply with technical standards that
have been agreed across the EU.
Without that specification oversight, we
will very probably return to the old days
of cheap, nasty imports that perform
badly in service. In one sense, it would
be quite good for my own company
since there would inevitably be an
increase in litigation concerning poor-
quality wood goods that do not comply
with the specification, whatever that
specification might be in the future.
UK – education and training
Leaving aside the debate about Europe,
it is worth discussing the state of both
technical and vocational education
and training in the UK and the way
in which it has steadily deteriorated
since the 1970s. Before the 1979
general election, there were a number
of industry training boards which, by
law, obtained a levy from companies in
scope. The companies involved then got
that money back by applying for a grant
to put employees onto appropriate
courses. Soon after the Conservative
government came to power in 1979,
Inspecting veneers for
plywood manufacture in
Indonesia, bearing the
Woodexperts Diamond
Mark quality certification
logo
We will need to
continue as an
importing
nation, because
we cannot ever
produce
anything like the
number of
wood-based
products that
we require
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
48 | WOODEXPERTS
most of these boards were either
abolished altogether or merged. In
the case of the wood industries, the
closure of the Furniture and Timber
Industry Training Board at the start
of the 1980s led almost immediately
to the cancellation of any worthwhile
education and training within those
industries. In other words, employers
would willingly provide training, so
long as they had to pay out anyway
and could get that money back, but
as soon as training became voluntary,
they stopped it almost completely.
The lack of training of personnel in the
wood industries was so bad that by the
year 2000, we had lost two decades’
worth of people who understood both
their industry and their material. Of
course, our consultancy practice has
benefited from this state of affairs, by
having even more site investigation
and expert witness jobs when things
have gone wrong. The main issue
here is that the drastic change in
government policy from 1980 onwards
has had a dramatic effect on one
of our most important and leading
wealth-generating industries in the UK.
Even modern apprenticeships haven’t
helped. The money that is being raised
from the levy on those companies that
are deemed to be in scope with the new
requirements is almost impossible to get
back through employing apprentices.
The paperwork required and the hoops
to be jumped through are enough
to put many companies off applying
altogether. Even those who do bother
are usually told that the particular course
they want to put their apprentices on
is not appropriate for any grant money
to be allowed. Our own fully accredited
Level 4 certificate and Level 6 diploma
in wood science and timber technology
are cases in point. Some companies in
the timber trade are using them – to
plug that two-decade knowledge gap –
but others that require more incentive
will not put employees through this
important step, since wood science
isn’t approved for any grants under the
modern apprenticeship scheme.
Making the necessary
improvements
I may be seen as just a member of that
past generation for whom everything
was always better in hindsight, but
that would be unfair. I have lived long
enough and have enough industry
experience to be able to see what
works and what doesn’t in terms of
government policy.
Some things that successive
governments have done in the past 30
years – closing the gender pay gap and
moving against religious and ageist
discrimination – are to be applauded.
But the policy on education and
training has been so fragmented and
ill-thought-through that we have lost
a generation’s worth of knowledge
within the timber trade and wood-
using industries.
If the UK leaves the EU, we will soon
feel the lack of knowledge as we try
to make it alone. My hope is that
Brexit will be stopped, but if we do
leave, we will need a drastic change
in the manner in which we approach
education and training and its funding,
and in how easy it is to get hold of
that funding infuture.
The policy on
education and
training has
been so
fragmented
and ill-thought-
through that
we have lost a
generation’s
worth of
knowledge
within the
timber trade
and wood-
using
industries
Packs of Diamond Mark-
quality roofing battens
in Estonia for export to
the UK
49LANGDALE ASSOCIATES |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Founder and Director James Ellis
100 Union Street – where the architect’s
vision is created by the construction team,
while remaining on-time and on-budget
Established in 2013, Langdale Associates have undertaken
steady and sustained growth. Their projects have ranged
from restoration and the Victoria Palace Theatre to the
award-winning Eight Artillery Row development, and they pride
themselves on the quality of their service. Prior to establishing
the company, Director James Ellis developed his expertise
within the industry and uses this knowledge in both their
recruitment process and their project management. He explains
the need for subcontractors to take on projects only within
their means and the uncertainty that currently affects the
construction sector.
I started the company in 2013 when an opportunity arose to undertake a project
in Purley, Croydon. Having worked in the industry previously, I had experience of
companies that had excelled and the pitfalls of this sector. I could see the issues
they had faced and the aspects that had contributed to their failures. I thought my
experience would help me to ensure a safe future for the company.
Developing repeat customers
We based the company on the quality of service that we offered. This was allied
to an extensive supply chain that could be relied upon, supported by a few key
companies who we knew were dependable. Our level of service has led to a
high proportion of repeat business, and our appeal rests on the quality of our
workmanship and what we are able to offer our clients. There are many bricklaying
FACTS ABOUT
LANGDALE ASSOCIATES
»Founder and Director:
JamesEllis
»Established in 2013
»Based in Bexleyheath, London
Borough of Bexley
»Services: Brickwork, blockwork
and stone subcontracting
»No. of employees: Fluctuates
between 50 and 120
»www.langdaleassociates.co.uk
Langdale Associates

www.woodexperts.com

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster