Andrew Jones MP discusses the successful launch of the Integrated Rail Plan-related paper.
When we started thinking about the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI) taking a step into more detailed policy work, it seemed clear to me the topic to look at was how to improve the delivery of infrastructure.
All governments have struggled with delivery, and not just in rail policy but other modes, too.
The output of our project was published a few days ago and launched at an event at Central Hall in Westminster, and what a big success it was.
That is success in terms of both the ICE-APPGI joint report - Accelerating delivery of the Integrated Rail Plan - and the event.
Gaining traction with ministers
The report was well received by ICE members and many had input into its creation, too. I always knew that there was great expertise to be tapped into.
It has achieved traction with ministers, with one in the audience at our launch and others being informed via discussions and hard copies in their post.
We had an excellent panel speaking at the event, too, again with great expertise.
Thanks to Dr Michele Dix, ICE Policy Fellow, and Karen Heppenstall from Midlands Connect for joining us and fielding questions.
Each panellist brought different perspectives and expertise and really added to the event.
If I could just highlight and thank two parliamentary colleagues for joining our panel, Huw Merriman MP and Ruth Cadbury MP, both from the Transport Select Committee.
But such has been the changes in parliament over the past few days that Huw is now rail minister!
In terms of our paper having influence, we could not have been more fortunate.
It was good to see so many people at the launch. Despite Central Hall not being one of our regular venues, it worked well and people came.
We are hoping to have more in person events over the months ahead, with a bias towards Parliament as a location, but now we know there is another choice if we need it.
There were for me three key takeaways from the paper – certainty, collaboration and consultation.
- Certainty being clarity on decision making (and for some time ahead too) to allow effective planning and all that means for delivering value and effective scaling up such as skills programmes.
- Collaboration means collaborative delivery models; the paper gives some details on this, and I suspect this is where the biggest wins are hiding.
- Consultation being close working with local bodies such as councils or combined authority mayors to ensure there is integration between local and national plans.
Our launch was on a remarkable day in Parliament. Yes, one more.
The MPs had to disappear to vote after questions and got back to Parliament to find much had been going on, but clearly everyone else was staying and enjoying the opportunity to gather once again.
The creation of the paper has been a highly worthwhile initiative.
Thanks are due all round, but the APPGI secretariat and policy team at ICE deserve a shout-out.
What should we cover next?
I suspect that we will be considering a policy paper next year, to build on this success.
If you have any suggestions for topics, please drop me a line.
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