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Mon January 20 2020

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The fizz and lift behind Laing O’Rourke's new corporate affairs agenda

4 days The decision by Laing O’Rourke to come in from the cold and join the fold of the major contractors’ trade association coincides with the arrival of a top Coca Cola lobbyist at the company.

Joel Morris joined Laing O’Rourke this month as head of corporate affairs for its European operations. He previously worked for Coca-Cola for 12 years, initially as director of communications and then director of public affairs for nine years. His campaigns included the fizzy drink giant’s attempt to prevent the introduction of a sugar tax in the UK.

Before that he was the media spokesman for Pfizer and its most famous product, Viagra.

It has also been disclosed this week that in a further attempt to put some fizz and lift into its public affairs activities, Laing O’Rourke has joined Build UK, an organisation that it had until now persistently shunned.

Build UK was set up in 2015 as a merger of the UK Contractors Group (whose members were major national construction contractors) and the National Specialist Contractors Council (whose members were trade associations representing specialist trades).

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Billed as a single voice for the industry, its character became even more hybrid when professional institutions (like the Chartered Institute of Builders) and client bodies (most recently Transport for London) joined Build UK.

With a new corporate affairs chief in position, Laing O’Rourke has decided that it too now wants to be part of the wider industry lobbying machinery.

Joel Morris, the new head of corporate affairs at Laing O’Rourke, told us: “It is extremely encouraging that the new government has pledged to invest in infrastructure.  There is much work to be done and our sector will play an important role in helping determine the UK’s success in the post-Brexit era. As we continue to transform our business to improve employee wellbeing, drive productivity and deliver more projects faster, to a higher standard and more sustainably, other companies are taking action too. Build UK needs to evidence and communicate the widespread change within construction and we look forward to playing our part to help them do this.”

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