Representatives from a wide range of industry groups including the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) gave an overview of the local roads market at Highways UK on Wednesday (3 November).
Several organisations took part and discussed what they do and who they represent including ARTSM, ADEPT, Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), ITS (UK), RSTA and TOPAS.
Stephen Fidler, Co-Director, Local Transport from the Department for Transport (DfT) chaired the session and allowed participants to deliver a three-minute elevator pitch on the organisation they represent.
Speaking on behalf of LCRIG, board member Dwayne Lowe – who is Head of Highways, Transport and Network at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: “We presently have 81 council members and 110 other organisation members.
“Within LCRIG the organisations are the members and all who work within them receive the benefits. Membership and all services are free of charge to our Council Members and all we ask is for each Council to support our commitment to facilitating communication, collaboration and innovation.
“At our recent annual Strictly Highways event, where the theme was ‘Delivering practical solutions to help Councils achieve net zero’ we had 405 recorded users attend virtually and obviously we are looking forward to holding the event live next year at the Blackpool Winter Gardens.”
Dwayne also spoke about LCRIG’s achievements over the last two years and added: “We have been through the legal process of establishing LCRIG as a Community Interest Company, which means that the organisation can now operate along the lines of any other limited company. We did this to ensure that we remain at the centre of sharing good practice, skills, experience and knowledge across the sector.
“We’ve achieved independent certification to ISO44001 which is in recognition of our collaborative business relationship management system. The DfT have supported this initiative and they are now be able to make the point to Government that over half of England’s Highway Authorities are part of a single collaborative effort that meets the exacting requirements of the ISO.”
He summed up by briefly touching upon what’s next for LCRIG, stating: “We’ve loads more to come including collaboration with other Institutions and developing training and development opportunities through our training academy.”
During a question and answer session at the end of the elevator pitches, participants talked about the importance of collaboration.
Kealie Franklin, General Secretary from ARTSM said: “I was an educator. Learning is a fundamental process. Everyone has an opportunity in their life to learn. When I came into the highways sector it appeared fragmented. But as an outsider it is one industry.
“Education begins with primary school and goes through to adulthood. When I joined the industry there were many associations of who I knew nothing about. It is fundamentally important that you know the whole position before you can decide what the problems are.
“If we don’t know about changes going on around us, we cannot adapt. Collaboration is about understanding the bigger impact.”
Her views were echoed by Paul Boss, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA), who said: “We have a lot of formal collaborations. Our main focus is to educate first of all and make sure that clients hear the right information. There is no rivalry. We collaborate with AIA because we want people to use right products in the right places. A few years ago you may not have seen that. We collaborate with everyone.”
Darren Capes, manager of the Transport Technology Forum (TTF), said: “We must start working with new partners – groups who we haven’t spoken with before. This is not just about collaborating with our friends, we must learn to collaborate with others and expand that network.”
Talking about the subject of skills, Paula Hewitt – President of ADEPT highlighted the opportunities that climate change could bring to attracting new people into the sector.
She said: “There is a huge opportunity for highways to attract younger people by talking about the sector’s role in decarbonisation and achieving net zero. More work needs to be done in this area.”
Highways UK has rapidly established itself as the sector’s must-attend event and is the highlight of the highways industry’s annual calendar.
The event, which is taking place from 3-4 November, brings together the people responsible for planning, developing, managing, maintaining, and future-proofing the nation’s roads networks.
LCRIG is forming part of the Local Authority Hub (Stand 10) which is sponsored by Ringway.
The Government is being urged to ensure guidelines for future Mobility as a Service solutions have standardised approaches to collaboration, avoid being prescriptive on modes and insist on mandatory data sharing.