Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.
OK, so Philip Hammond hasn’t made his autumn statement yet but listening to the mood music it wouldn’t be huge surprise if he stole a soundbite from Tony Blair and tweaked it a bit next Wednesday.
So, it was fascinating to hear from some of the region’s key players at CECA North East’s Infrastructure Vision event this morning.
Highways England, the Port of Sunderland, PD Ports, the North East LEP and the Tees Valley Combined Authority all joined CECA’s national chief executive and head of commercial affairs to give their views on the state of infrastructure investment in the north east.
So, what’s the story and how are we doing?
I’d give it a positivity rating of 7 out of 10 – it was fascinating to hear from both ends of the region.
Key takeaways for me:
- David Land from the North East LEP made a great point about the region needing to be better at defining what we want to see by 2030 or 2040 and making a comprehensive strategic business case for it to secure funding. Government is listening and looking for infrastructure projects to invest in and local authorities and others need to engage with the government on its own terms to deliver results. The National Infrastructure Commission call for evidence is a perfect time to start doing this.
- There is a 30-year focus on infrastructure investment now which is a step change from the 3-5 year electoral focus we are too used to – this is great news but means a change of approach when it comes to government engagement.
- “Infrastructure is an enabler, but what is it enabling?” – great quote from Jonathan Spruce, Interim Director of Strategic Transport at the Tees Valley Combined Authority – we’re not building bridges or roads just because we like them, we’re doing it because they deliver jobs, housing and improve people’s lives.
- Public sector procurement – it’s dull, it’s a pain, it’s not perfect. It never was and it never will be. Whether it is comms, plant and materials, consultancy services it is a challenge. Deal with it. Public sector procurement is doing its best.
- On a personal note, it’s always good as well to hear client projects like Invest in East Coast and New Wear Crossing being talked about so positively by others as well.
Thanks to CECA NE – the rhetoric is good, the reality needs to match up to it.
Thanks for reading