A lack of long-term planning for infrastructure, delays to major projects and the need to boost the profile of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) were the topics up for discussion at the ICE’s fringe event at the Labour conference in Liverpool last night.
Labour MP Nick Raynsford and shadow business minister Ian Lucas MP spoke at the reception, which was attended by construction industry and policy experts. Raynsford criticised the lack of attention given to the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) by the current government in recent weeks, and said it was as if the NIP “didn’t exist.”
Raynsford, who heads the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI), added that the purpose of the NIP was to give “better certainty and better focus”, and that cementing the ideas of the Plan was “vital to the country’s future.”
The event came on the same day that shadow chancellor Ed Balls unveiled a five-point plan to revive the UK economy, that included bringing forward infrastructure investment. On day two of the conference, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle also reaffirmed the party’s backing to High Speed 2, who said the construction of HS2 is the “only credible way” to tackle capacity problems between north and south.
ACE chairman Nelson Ogunshakin urged a long-term view towards infrastructure investment, saying that while he “understood there are challenges […] we need to invest in projects that will create opportunities for young people.” He said that the construction industry “represented nearly £20bn of turnover” and deserved to have its voice heard in the scramble for government funding.
The Infrastructure for Growth reception was organised by the ICE alongside the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), the Construction Products Association, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and ConstructionSkills.
The event was also held at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham last Monday, and will also take place at the Conservative conference in Manchester next week.