ICE offices in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have been operating since 2000, but with just two paid workers to carry out the work in each office output was 'very limited', says former ICE Wales executive secretary Denys Morgan.
Morgan is now the full time regional manager for Wales and in the past year has expanded his team to include a part time personal assistant, administrative assistant, communications executive and two membership development officers. This leaves Morgan more time to engage with politicians and the public.
'Over the past year, we've done more to raise the profile of civil engineering than ever before, ' says Morgan. 'Previously we could only manage four conferences a year. We can now offer fi ve conferences and eight half-day seminars.
I meet every Welsh Assembly minister involved with civil engineering at least twice a year and systematically meet up with the chief executives of all 22 local authorities in Wales, ' he says.
'We've driven up our level of contact with the Confederation of British Industry and local Chamber of Commerce, consolidating some of this work with the Construction Industry Council, ' he adds. Morgan's role involves keeping costs down by running sponsored events.
Wales is the success story on which all the other regions are modelling themselves.
ICE head of areas Stewart Crichton is eager to stress that the regional support teams will complement the work done by members, not replicate it. 'Having the continuity of a support team will allow committees to work more effectively, ' he says. Dealing with membership on home turf will be one of the biggest changes to the way the ICE operates, he adds.
The ICE South West regional support team was set up last year, headed up by regional manager Barry Griffiths. As chairman of the south west Construction Industry Council he also sits in the regional assembly and is involved with forming regional strategies. He says that the past year has been spent recruiting staff and liaising with decision makers in the area.
'Creating a professional newsletter and producing a training programme with Thomas Telford have been the first products of the new permanent office, ' says Griffi ths.