IN A MOVE calculated to increase its involvement in 'the political, technical and social issues associated with future development' in the North West, the Institution of Civil Engineers opened its first regional office in Manchester last month.
If successful, further regional offices are on the agenda. These would be in addition to existing ICE outposts in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.
Situated in engineering's historical heartland, the new office will also be used to reach out to the local community, promoting the profession and the work of engineers.
Performing the opening ceremony, ICE President Mark Whitby emphasised his support for the Institution's push into the regions. He applauded the move by local associations to play a more significant role.
'The Manchester office was driven not by Great George Street, but by the local association itself, bottom up', said business development engineer Trevor Simm.
The chosen venue in Manchester's Centre for Understanding of the Built Environment (CUBE). brings the ICE into direct contact with the North West Development Agency, Movement for Innovation (M4i), Construction Best Practice Programme, Department of Trade & Industry, Manchester City Council, Manchester University, Electronic Learning Centre, Construction Industry Council, Rethinking Construction and the Royal Institution of British Architects, which all share the building.
'These links will allow the Institution to increase its contribution to the region, ' said ICE communications and regional policy director Julien Parrott A new regional office administrator - yet to be appointed - will be responsible for full-time operation, with North West Association regional liaison officer Max Steels and Simm working in support.
Regional liaison officers and local association development officers will be based at CUBE where professional reviews and surgeries will take place.
There is an IT link to Great George Street.
Local association seminars will be held at the centre from this autumn, making use of CUBE's business centre, meeting room and a cafe/ bistro.
The regional office also aims to reach a wider public audience through talks and exhibitions.
'We really want to get more people involved, ' said Simm.
Exhibitions will kick off later this spring with work by local schoolchildren. Further involvement of schools and universities is planned.
CUBE also houses the ICE and RIBA bookshops, and access is wheelchair friendly.