Sir John Armitt addresses members and business leaders in West Midlands

Sir John Armitt met ICE members, engaged with local politicians and met influential business leaders from the region, as well as touring a £250 million rail project, during his presidential visit on 19th and 20th May.

Sir John Armitt celebrates #thisiscivilengineering at the Norton Bridge grade separation site.
Sir John Armitt celebrates #thisiscivilengineering at the Norton Bridge grade separation site.

ICE West Midlands graduate and students committee organised a quiz night and construction competition for Sir John.

Seventy delegates attended a meeting, introduced by Sir John, at HS2 offices in Snow Hill, Birmingham. They heard from representatives from the Midlands Engine, the West Midlands Combined Authority and Midlands Connect, on how the built environment is integral to driving the economic growth of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Introducing the event, Sir John said: 'Effective infrastructure drives growth, supports job creation and creates thriving, sustainable societies. However, it can also be expensive, be disruptive during construction, and requires fine political judgement so resources are best used to meet the country's needs.’

After stopping to thank, and present gifts to hard-working committee members, Sir John took the train to Stafford for a lunch time event hosted by Staffordshire County Council, with ICE Fellows, local business leaders and Staffordshire County Council engineers.

Sir John shared some themes from his President’s address and said: ‘engineers have to be as relevant as we can’ and use ‘well expressed and simply explained arguments to enter the debate’.

On innovation, he said: ‘as engineers we lag behind other industries and we need to be challenged by our clients.’

His message on skills was: ‘we need more technicians and to need to attract them in to the industry with well-defined career paths’.

The day ended with a visit to the Staffordshire area improvements project at Norton Bridge where Sir John heard from Staffordshire Alliance engineers from Network Rail, Atkins, Volker Rail and Laing O’Rouke, who had delivered the project and who gave him a tour of the impressive site.

Armitt visit to Norton Bridge project
Sir John was given a presentation by staff working on the improvement project at Norton Bridge

The project is a £250 million multi-disciplinary programme of works designed to provide a faster, more reliable network for the travelling public by removing the last major bottleneck on the West Coast Mainline which is Britain`s busiest mainline railway. It is one of the biggest stretches of new rail infrastructure in the UK.

Sir John and the project team stopped at the Norton Bridge grade separation site to pose for a photo with a ‘This is civil engineering banner’ which will be displayed on the site as part of ICE’s #thisisivilengineering campaign highlighting the work of civil engineers to the general public.

Sir John was impressed with the ’alliance team working approach, which demonstrates best practice for future delivery in the rail and other sectors.’

The Staffordshire Area Improvements Programme was pronounced winner of the Partnership Award at ICE West Midlands Awards on 26th May.