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Local Liberal Democrats visit KIBT centre in Stoke.

May 4, 2004 12:00 AM

Liz and Cllr Christina Jebb visiting KIBT centre in StokeLocal Liberal Democrats recently visited KIBT, the Centre for Knowledge and Innovation in Building Technologies based at CERAM in Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent.

West Midlands Euro-MP Liz Lynne and Councillors Christina Jebb (Biddulph Endon) and Henry Jebb (Brown Edge and Endon Ward) met with KIBT staff to receive an overview of KIBT's involvement in the new Regeneration Programme for North Staffordshire and details of preparations for the full implementation of The Disability Discrimination Act 1995, all aspects of it come into force on the 1st October 2004.

Speaking following the visit local Councillor Christina Jebb said:

"Centres such as KIBT are important for the Construction Industry. They can provide companies with the up to date knowledge not only of new technology but of legislation as well. This is especially important for businesses wishing to improve their competitiveness in an extremely competitive sector.

"I'm particularly pleased that the RENEW programme will benefit houses in Biddulph East, and help to improve the Schingler homes which have been blighted for so long through poor construction techniques. Everyone deserves to have safe and affordable quality homes to live in."

Liz Lynne MEP who has worked closely with the construction industry on the Vibrations and Noise Directives in the European Parliament said:

"It is important that the building industry are kept informed of changes to legislation which concerns them. I am also delighted that KIBT are highlighting the Disability Discrimination Act.

"Many people are still not aware that from the 1st October 2004 changes to the Disability Discrimination Act mean that many businesses throughout the region including every high street store, shopping mall, public building, private offices and government building will be required to make adjustments to their premises to make them more user friendly to disabled people or face prosecution."

The Building Technologies cluster has been identified by Advantage West Midlands (the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands) as a key area for driving growth, enterprise and employment within the region.

Advantage West Midlands has focused funding into the Building Technologies cluster to promote the development of a sustainable competitive advantage for the region. It's aim is to encourage innovation and collaboration throughout the supply chain from aggregate extraction and raw materials, through building product manufacture to construction sites and the professional services area of Building

This is a key area of focus and brings together suppliers of materials and building products, construction companies and research centres to develop new products and materials to address the housing problems within the region. Problems such as skill shortages and poor energy efficiency are being addressed by developing innovative products, services and ways of working throughout the supply chain.

Visitors were given a practical demonstration of the KIBT knowledge base website <<a href="http://www.kibt.com/">http://www.kibt.com/> www.kibt.com searchable database which provides easy access to up to the minute information on technological developments, innovative new products and house building systems, changes in regulatory requirements, a technical alert e-news service and summaries of the latest topical and relevant issues. The on-line service is backed by a helpline service to technical experts at the Centre and the visitors were shown the KIBT Internet café which is available to members including Stoke College students to carry out their research with the KIBT team on hand to advise and help when required. A tour was also conducted of the large scale structural test laboratory which houses unique test rigs for research and development and on view were many existing, new and innovative materials, components and house building systems undergoing test.

An innovative house made from single leaf brickwork wall construction has undergone complete testing under supervision by Professor Geoff Edgell, Head of CERAM Building Technology and has been constructed at Burton-on-Trent and is to be available as a seminar centre, commented Mervyn Kirk General Manager KIBT. The project was funded by the DTI Partners in Innovation programme, the NHBC and the Brick Development Association. Industry in-kind contributions from manufacturers, material suppliers, designers, contractors, etc were considerable.

The project offered the opportunity of innovation in a series of relatively small steps and the possibility of continual improvement as the developments are implemented such that a relatively conservative industry can be improved with self confidence. It is hoped that with further local support the designs can be developed to help solve some crucial North Staffordshire housing problems which can then be showcased for others to take forward on both a regional and national basis.