Top contractors to shut down for Queen’s funeral

Several of the UK’s top contractors will limit work or completely shut sites during the Queen’s funeral next week.

Earlier this week, the Construction Leadership Council told firms that there was no obligation on them to suspend business during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, as per government guidance.

It did recommend, however, that those that were continuing to operate in London during the mourning period and on the bank holiday should stagger employees’ start and end times, avoiding peak hours.

In earlier guidance, the trade body warned that the funeral (Monday, 19 September), and the period of lying in state, were likely to have “impacts on access to, and activity on, central London construction sites”.

It also highlighted that there could be a “reputational risk” if the public thought firms were “behaving inappropriately” during mourning, for example, by creating loud noises.

Amid this advice, Construction News can reveal that a string of tier one contractors are pausing work to avoid expected disruption to sites in London, and to allow workers to mourn.

Among the firms observing the bank holiday is ISG. A spokesperson for the contractor said project sites would close “where possible”.

“All ISG’s UK offices will close for the day, and the same will also apply to our project sites where possible. For any sites that must remain operational, arrangements will be made to allow our people to pay their respects as they wish on the day,” they added.

Bam will also suspend operations in the capital. It said: “[We] will be treating Monday as a bank holiday, unless there is a critical business reason to stay open for any specific sites. We do not foresee any significant issues arising.

“Sites can, however, assess for themselves if there is any need to plan differently, as they would for any other major event. Health and safety remain paramount in taking decisions.”

Both Wates and Sir Robert McAlpine confirmed to CN that they would be closing all sites and offices to allow staff to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on 8 September.

Laing O’Rourke, too, will be halting work on construction sites in London where it can. A spokesperson for the company said: “Laing O’Rourke projects and offices will close [next] Monday to allow staff to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth and commemorate her reign.

“On a small number of projects, some essential activity will be necessary… normal activity and operations will resume across the business on Tuesday, 20 September.”

Mace said it was taking a “respectful approach” across its sites, adding that it was working closely with clients and partners to ensure the safety of its colleagues and members of the public.

“On 19 September, [we] will be observing the bank holiday in the UK to allow colleagues to pay their respects and commemorate Her [Majesty’s] reign on the day of [the funeral]. Sites across the United Kingdom will be closed except for essential and safety-critical work,” the company stated.

Speaking specifically about its projects in London, the UK’s biggest contractor, Balfour Beatty, said it was following safety and security guidance issued by the Metropolitan Police, the royal household and the government.

A spokesperson said: “Where required, we have paused works, increased security presence on site, and have put in place restrictions for material deliveries and waste removal, to ensure the safety of the public.

“We continue to work closely and cooperate with the Metropolitan and Military Police to put in place any new requirements as they arise.”

Other contractors, such as Galliford Try, also said work on some sites would continue in specific circumstances.

“The majority of our sites will be closed for the bank holiday. There is one, gunning for completion, where some minor internal works may continue , with respect [being given] for the funeral timing itself,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“One site in Marble Arch has been affected more than that, where Westminster Council have asked for it to be closed down this week, [but] some minor internal [work] has continued,” they added.

Commenting on work during the funeral, a Vinci spokesperson said: “We have put a pause on all PR and comm[unications] until after the funeral.

“We express our deepest sympathies to the royal family, and our teams remain ready to support our clients and the public at this time of national mourning.

“In many cases we are fitting in with our clients’ needs and adjusting to the situation. Like the rest of the nation, we will pay our respects on 19 September.”

Morgan Sindall declined to comment.

Last week, the construction industry paid tribute to Her Majesty, who died at the age of 96. Many also shared stories of times they had met with Her Majesty, including the education sector head at Sir Robert McAlpine, Russell Day, who met the monarch when the firm opened the Forum building at Exeter University in 2012.

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