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Working lives Social engineering

ICE news Highways - Change is sweeping through the highways industry and riding the wave is consultant Scott Wilson, thanks in no small part to soon-to-be-director Paul Bracegirdle.

Consultant Scott Wilson is flush with roads jobs at the moment, having recently picked up the role of lead designer on the £186M A46 Newark to Widmerpool improvement in Nottinghamshire, the £15M A47 Blofield to North Burlingham dualling and the A63 Melton grade separated junction in Yorkshire.

All three are being run by Paul Bracegirdle from the firm's Chesterfield office, where it is also working on the £60M A30 Bodmin to Indian Queens improvement in Cornwall. Bracegirdle is Scott Wilson's new director of highways, having taken over from William Kemp earlier this year. Kemp is now acting on a consultant level until he retires at the end of this financial year.

The A46, A47 and A30 are all early contractor involvement (ECI) schemes and the A63 a design and build. Entire project teams for all four schemes - contractors and client's agents included - are housed together. Indeed, Scott's Chesterfield office is so busy these days that the company is building new premises just down the road.

All this is making life complicated for Bracegirdle.

'We've got three different ECIs running from here, all with different contractors.

We've got discrete parts of the office that they're all in, but it does make life interesting when you've got key people out of each organisation working as part of an integrated team, ' he says.

But it is just this spirit of harmony and unity that the Highways Agency is trying to achieve with its ECI contract and its 'Speeding Up Delivery' masterplan.

Bracegirdle is a huge fan and believes Scott Wilson is already reaping the benefits.

'On the A30 we really went for positive promotion of the scheme ahead of the public inquiry and that really seemed to work.

'The way that we are set up here means we are able to pass on these experiences to other jobs.

This puts us in a strong position.'

'It's a total change from the confrontational way - now we just to have to do things, ' he says. 'It is a huge change but one the industry has taken on board very quickly. It is quite remarkable that everybody gets on as well as they do.'

Bracegirdle graduated from Nottingham University in 1975, initially working with contractors Holland Hannon and Cubitts on the M56 near Manchester Airport, before moving to Nottingham consultancy Elliott & Brown and then on to Matlock based Midland Road Construction Unit.

He joined Scott Wilson as a senior bridge engineer in 1981 when the company bought out Midland Road Construction Unit.

His 23 years with the firm have been spent almost exclusively in the bridges and highways fields, making him well placed to judge the changes now sweeping through the industry.

He has also spent time abroad, with four years in Hong Kong between 1993 to 1997 working on the Route 3 Kwai Chung Viaduct project.

He returned from Hong Kong to run Scott Wilson's Telford based structures team and to manage the £150M A55 design build finance operate tender. He finally arrived in Chesterfield in 1999 to concentrate on business development and project management in the highways sector.

Bracegirdle is now responsible for developing relationships with contractors with a view to forming joint bids on ECI and design and build contracts, a job he clearly relishes.

'On the basis the government is going to carry on spending it is a particularly exciting time. This new way does need some re-education and you have to be careful over staff selection, but it is all there for us, ' he says.

And he is happy to see the new collaborative way of working spreading. Scott Wilson is also working on Ireland's first ECI scheme, the £17M N2 Carrickmacross to Aclint improvement. This scheme at least is not being run from Chesterfield. Any more work and the new office will be full before the first man is in the door.

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