CLAW Conference November 2021

Dave Powell, Director of Corporate Estates, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and newly elected chair of CLAW (Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales), reports on the recent conference

The CLAW conference held on 11th November via a TEAMS environment turned out to be a great success. Initially we thought it was unfortunate that the event was unable to be held on a face-to-face basis but the virtual event was probably better attended as a result. Indeed, given that the main theme was decarbonisation, the online event avoided people travelling to the venue which can only be good for the environment.

John Howells, Director of Climate Change, Energy & Planning, provided a keynote speech on behalf of Welsh Government followed by a very informative and technical presentation on ‘Retrofit Housing to Reduce Carbon Emissions’ by Colin King, Technical Lead Retrofit & Construction at Sero.

We heard about some great work undertaken by the CLAW Sub Groups with presentations from each of the Chairs covering topics such as their response to COVID, additional ventilation requirements, maximising opportunities to maintain buildings, carbon reduction priorities, sharing of good practice and a look ahead to next years priorities.

Representatives from each of the three regional construction frameworks provided an in depth report on each, the added social benefits achieved and confirmation that they are tackling the Net Zero challenges head on through their contracts. Leading on from this, we received an update on the work of the Construction Forum by Ed Evans, Director of CECA Wales who called for more action by LA’s to help improve the information on pipeline projects using the Sell2Wales portal. Finally, Cat Griffith-Williams, CEWales provided an update on the work undertaken to roll out the Future Generations Directory across LA’s in Wales. This tool has clearly been widely accepted by LA’s and the next steps are to explore its use in other sectors such as Higher Education, Health and other public sector bodies.

The whole event stimulated much debate and questions together with some really positive comments from attendees. One of which really captured the whole essence of CLAW: “Listening to the presentations and the questions and comments, the one thing that jumps out at me is the importance of CLAW and the ability to address the challenges collectively and in a collaborative manner. There are some excellent professionals within Wales and forums like this are a great format for identifying best practice and sharing experience.”

Some of the excellent construction projects completed within the year were considered as part of the CLAW Building of the Year Awards and congratulations go out to the Winner, Ysgol Santes Dwynwen, Isle of Anglesey County Council and the Highly Commended, Llys Cadwyn, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

2020/21 has been a successful year for CLAW despite the pressures the industry has encountered as a result of Covid and flooding across Wales. We look forward to continuing the good work, sharing best practice and delivering high quality outcomes during the forthcoming year.

The event was extremely well organised and hosted by the previous CLAW Chair Jonathan Fearn, so thanks go out to the event organisers CEWales, host and all the guest speakers and we look forward to hearing from them again in the future as the industry improves and technology changes to assist us with our ambitions of achieving Net Zero by 2030.