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We’re better together

Alan Butler

Alan Butler, ICE North West regional director, on the benefits of partnerships.

The term partnership has become something of an overused concept.

Vans and trucks are now routinely bedecked with phrases like “working in partnership with” as they undertake any number of mundane services, many of which we take for granted as being funded through our Council Tax anyway.

But perhaps it’s time to take a step back from the cynical definition of partnership as “mutual mistrust suppressed by the need for money”.

Dynamic drivers

Let’s consider instead how partnerships act as a dynamic driver by assembling the necessary expertise to plan, deliver and maintain the infrastructure that will enable UK plc to compete in an increasingly challenging and unpredictable global marketplace.

This month I attended a seminar on a topic highly relevant to our profession: Infrastructure UK’s cost of civils report, which wants to cut the cost of building infrastructure by 20%.

This event drew an eclectic audience of the engineering, academic and legal communities.

The outcome was an engaging and intelligent debate on how the construction and engineering sector can avail itself of cutting edge academic and legal expertise to design, deliver and future proof sustainable high quality infrastructure by expending fewer resources: that crucial mantra of ‘less for more’.

Collective will

Clearly, a collective will exists to grasp these challenges of matching higher standards with greater efficiency. The growth of fledgling Local Enterprise Partnerships presents our industry with an opportunity to engage in the processes of planning and consultation at a much earlier stage.

ICE North West together with five like minded partners is establishing a new regional consortium which is now forging relationships with LEPs. The North West Construction Industry Alliance will act as a trusted adviser to LEPs and other organisations with a remit to provide necessary infrastructure.

This venture will seek to promote cooperative project working, acting as a conduit for the sharing of knowledge by utilising the construction industry’s vast expertise in the planning and delivery of local infrastructure.

Greater recognition

Through this partnership, ICE North West aims to secure greater recognition for the role its members play in providing the facilities that maintain our living standards and contributing so much to the wealth of our nation.

Partnerships are also helping to drive up the profile of our institution across the region. Key infrastructure schemes such as the Mersey Gateway river crossing, the Greater Manchester Waste PFI and the Mersey Tidal Power project were all showcased during this year’s regional visit by ICE President Peter Hansford.

Sharing a partnership platform with major players like Peel Holdings, Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and Mersey Gateway conveys the key message that multi billion pound projects ultimately rely on civil engineers for their delivery.

  • Alan Butler is the ICE North West regional director


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