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Now it's the ICE's turn


As a member of the ICE who voted to approve a £27 increase in subscriptions next year, I am very pleased to have been in the majority.

The vote in favour of the rise means that the ICE can at last start to roll out its five year strategy, safe in the knowledge that the membership not only believes it is being moved in the right direction but is also prepared to put its money behind the ideas.

But make no mistake, I am expecting something pretty substantial in return for my vote. I will be watching the results of my investment like a hawk over the next months and years. And I will expect to measure the added value.

It is vital that we all do. For as I have stated in these pages before, 'the big question, regardless of subscriptions, must be: is it worth being a member of the ICE - full stop'.

That remains true.

If ICE members are to remain members, and new engineers encouraged to join, this opportunity has to be seized so that the ICE is transformed into the modern, effective organisation that professional members demand.

Pouring good money after bad can never be an option.

I am of course also very aware that subscriptions are now more than likely to rise again by 9% in 2007 and by 4.5% in 2008, by then adding £56 to this year's bill. This was made very clear last December, when Council approved the strategic plan, as being vital to balancing the books during a period of very high investment.

Again I have no problem with this in principle. I want to see investment in the ICE that allows it to become a professional organisation that leads and assists the profession.

Frankly to this end, it costs what it costs.

But having the money and the mandate to enact its bold fi ve year business plan is one thing. Actually using these tools to revitalise the institution and make it an organisation that its members value is the bigger challenge.

So as we wait to see new professional support teams put in place across the regions - with salaries of '£40,000-£45,000 plus £5,500 car allowance' - we must also consider how we will judge this process of reform.

But it is a stark and worrying fact that so far I haven't seen very much in the way of cold, hard measurables. I have no argument about paying professional ICE staff the going rate for their job as long as they really do achieve more than the so called 'well meaning amateurs' of the past.

Documents such as the ICE's recent annual report certainly demonstrate plenty of (good) aspiration and report improvement that is very real and very tangible. But it is vital we have more, to allow us as members and subscription payers to measure and judge success or failure.

For example, what does government influence really look like- How much media coverage constitutes success?

What rate of membership growth (or fall) is acceptable?

Maybe these targets already exist. In which case members should be told about them, if only to offer reassurance and quantify where we are going and at what speed.

By approving this subscription rise we have given the Institution the chance to become the best. Now, as ICE members, we should expect to be able to measure how this is being achieved.

Antony Oliver is NCE's editor

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