21 September 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work

View from the top: Stories from the frontline

This week, myself and Keely, our Relationship Manager, have been on a bit of tour.

We started our week down in the South West at the Working Group Meeting, chaired by one of our board members, Andy James, Head of Highways and Environment at CORMAC. The day themed around Asset Management, sponsored by WJ, and involved a number of presentations from suppliers (WDM, Aggregate Industries, Velocity and Stabilised Pavements Ltd) and Dorset Council, all sharing their approaches to reducing carbon either through practice or through products. Keely and I enjoyed meeting all who attended and it’s a great opportunity to talk with councils.

I always try and attend all of our Regional Groups, it’s a great opportunity to hear what’s going on in councils and because I attend so many, I really get a chance to sense check what’s happening across the country in our highways sector. I also find people are incredibly honest, whether it’s councils talking about the latest challenges, or suppliers talking about the work they are doing. One of the slides I used during my talk was “Keep Calm and Collaborate” and although it was rather tongue in cheek, it optimised my encouragement to the audience. I like in-person events because it’s often easier to talk about nuances, people by their nature are collaborators and have been for millennia, but it’s the nuances, talking one to one and being able to ask questions that help inspire change or interest in new ideas or ways of working.

Talking of “inspiring”, as part of our tour we visited some local authorities on their “turf”, or should I say their “network”. And actually, just going back to the in-person SW event, it was a great opportunity to visit other councils who are keen to share what they are doing.

For the final part of our tour this week, we visited two very different unitary councils, one being Plymouth City Council and the other Reading Borough Council. At both, there was an elected member feel, where we met local politicians keen to share what they’re doing, but also ideas for LCRIG to consider to support them. One of these elected members will be speaking at Strictly Highways, and this is partly because I want people to see the link with their roles and driving innovation. Keely and I had an opportunity to see a product launch whilst at Reading Borough Council and it was great to see how proud they are to showcase some of the innovations they were trailing.

Finally, if I were to sum up the themes of the week they would be; procurement and the interest in our DPS Innovation Procurement System, the challenge of reducing long term carbon impact and political cycles and community communication when using longevity methods to increase network longevity. Certainly lots of food for thought for me on how LCRIG helps and supports.