The season kicked off in Liverpool on 25 September where Labour held their Annual Conference, billed as one of the largest and most high profile political events in Europe with over 10,000 visitors and over 500 fringe events. The New Statesman hosted a high profile panel on which ICE Head of Policy Andrew Wescott served, alongside Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, and other industry representatives.
The panel, held in association with Gatwick Airport, discussed 'Delivering balanced growth: Transport, infrastructure and Britain's place in the world', which focused on international challenges and opportunities, and how these could be capitalised on to deliver prosperity nationwide.
The team was also present at a number of other private roundtable discussions at the conference, including Centre for Cities, IPPR, Reform, Demos and the Guardian. Topics ranged from long term infrastructure investment, economic growth, devolution, Brexit and transport, topics which ICE are uniquely placed to offer insight on.
The Conservative Party Conference was held this year in Birmingham, from 2 to 5 October, offering delegates a chance for party members, the press and the public to learn about Conservative ideas and policies for the year ahead.
ICE was at the forefront of events, hosting a hugely popular private roundtable with KPMG, Pinsent Masons and Atkins. The discussion, 'Creating a vision for UK infrastructure to 2050' was based on the National Needs Assessment (NNA) and provided an early opportunity to socialise the findings ahead of the official launch which took place this week.
ICE Director General Nick Baveystock chaired the roundtable at which the Rt. Hon David Gauke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury was ICE's guest speaker. At the roundtable he highlighted the importance of the National Infrastructure Commission as well as balancing the link and need of big transformational projects and smaller interventions. He also talked of future proofing our infrastructure networks and told attendees that he is keen to engage with industry as a whole, given infrastructure is a new brief for him.
Also in attendance at the event was Stephen Hammond MP, Member of Treasury Select Committee and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI). Other attendees included representatives from Atkins, British Chamber of Commerce, CBI, CH2M, Green Alliance, Mott MacDonald, National Grid, Pinsent Masons, Skanska, Smart Energy GB, Turner & Townsend, Rail Delivery Group and Lonburgh Capital LLP.
A panel on Long-Term Resilience to Floods and Drought was held by the Enterprise Forum, attended by Dr Therese Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities, and other industry representatives. ICE Panellist Andrew Wescott took the opportunity speak about the NNA as well as discussing water and flooding issues.
Amongst other successes for ICE at the Conference was the opportunity to meet with Minister of State, the Rt. Hon John Hayes, Minister of State for Transport to discuss the NNA and attendance at several private roundtable discussions.
Finally, it was on to the SNP Conference which took place from 13 to 15 October in Glasgow, where Director, ICE Scotland Sara Thiam held a joint breakfast briefing event with RICS and RTPI on the outcomes of the Review of Planning in Scotland and the upcoming Scottish Government White Paper. Amongst the topics discussed were skills and climate change. Sara also went on to make the case for infrastructure at a number of other fringe events.
ICE's presence at the Conferences is an important way to ensure that the UK's infrastructure needs are at the forefront of party political thinking as they meet to discuss and announce policy positions for the coming year.