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As the President of ICE I would like to welcome you to our new Infrastructure Blog. In reading this blog you will gain insights from ICE members, industry leaders and experts as they share their views on a wide range of infrastructure issues.
With the General Election upon us, I would like to use this first blog post as an opportunity to share my views on where the next Government should focus its attention.
ICE has issued a simple message to the next Government – continuity, continuity, continuity. As we enter the final stretch to Polling Day it is easy to get excited by the different permutations that this extraordinary election may throw up. But we must not get side tracked. Infrastructure requires long-term, stable policy-making. Whichever party or parties make up the next Government, we will work with them to implement this.
I was pleased that the three main party manifestos all stated a commitment to infrastructure. They each promoted the expansion of quality apprenticeships schemes and the increase of STEM teachers in schools. This is in response to a larger concern about the next generation of engineers who will deliver projects and maintain our infrastructure stock.
Each party subscribed to further devolution within England. This should occur based on the capability and competency of those devolved structures. Both TfL and Manchester’s Combined Authority offer examples of how this policy can be implemented effectively. However, with further cuts expected after the election we should remain conscious of the pressures on Local Authorities.
The question for industry is how we deliver value for money. The UK has an ambitious infrastructure pipeline in place and we continue to support this. I would like to see a mature debate on the funding options. The balance between funding from tax or user charge may have to change over the next Parliament. This will be a challenging discussion for Government and ICE stands ready to help facilitate.
Finally, an issue I am passionate about is resilience of our infrastructure networks and assets. If we are to deal with the combined threats from climate change and population growth, long-term policy-making for infrastructure is vital. Without an evidence-based approach, the Government will not be able to make the necessary decisions which deal with impacts beyond the next election, and the next election after that.
I call on the next Government to build on what we have achieved over the last five years and to follow through on their commitments made during the election campaign. The industry is eager to collaborate so that we can deliver the infrastructure that enables a thriving economy, an inclusive society and a resilient environment.