ICE has been busy making its voice heard at one of the biggest dates in the political calendar – the party political conference season.
Each year, ICE joins forces with three other engineering and construction bodies -ACE, CECA and CPA - to represent industry as the ‘Infrastructure Alliance’ at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party conferences. They also work closely with CITB ConstructionSkills.
There are two main purposes to ICE having a presence at party conferences: engagement and intelligence gathering. This involves building and developing relationships with key parliamentarians and policy makers, and gaining information on the political landscape and upcoming legislation. Party conferences allow ICE to position itself as a leader of the infrastructure and civil engineering policy debate, ensuring we are setting the agenda on the issues that affect the Institution and our members.
To make the most of this yearly opportunity, the Infrastructure Alliance held a series of events focusing on different engineering topics, including skills, transport and the funding of infrastructure projects.
In addition to the events, ICE and the Infrastructure Alliance launched a new four point plan calling for Government to deliver the infrastructure the UK needs in order to rebuild our economy by improving delivery, rebalancing investment throughout the whole of the UK, taking immediate action on maintenance and minor works and securing a world class workforce.
At the Liberal Democrats’ event, guest speaker Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP announced the formation of a Strategic Engagement Forum to hold Government to account for delivery of the projects in the National Infrastructure Plan – something which ICE has long called for.
Speakers at the Labour party reception included former Construction Minister and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure, Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP, and fellow APPG member, Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan.
ICE and the Infrastructure Alliance hosted two events at the Conservative conference in Birmingham – a fringe event entitled ‘Central to UK economy: Why is everyone talking about infrastructure?’ and a reception with guest speaker Chloe Smith MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office. Hosted by Evening Standard journalist Anthony Hilton, the fringe event panellists debated the need for Government to get on with ‘shovel ready projects’, as well as looking at long term issues such as integrated transport policy and how to leverage private investment.
As well as holding four very successful events, ICE staff and DG Nick Baveystock held a number of meetings with Government Ministers, MPs, peers and policy think tanks. ICE will now be following up with the contacts made to explore how they can tie into ICE’s forward policy programme and public affairs strategy.