Contractors concerned by snap election

Prime Minister Theresa May’s surprise decision to hold a snap General Election on 8 June has raised concerns that progress on major transport matters will stall in the short to medium term.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “A snap election creates a climate of uncertainty for those who invest in and build the infrastructure we depend on.

“At this time we have some concern that the pre-election period may delay essential decisions on infrastructure investment.

“It is vital that an incoming Government prioritises the development of world class infrastructure for economic growth by committing to and building upon the existing pipeline.”

But other sector commentators are more optimistic about the prospect of an election. WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff’s UK chief executive Mark Naysmith said that a new Government with a clear mandate should hopefully create a more stable environment that reinvigorates confidence.

“With momentum building behind high speed rail, Heathrow, highways and other infrastructure investments a snap election presents the opportunity for the next Government to build a strong mandate for speeding up the delivery of these vital long term projects,” he added.

“We would like to see firm manifesto commitments to these schemes as well as a determined, clear pledge for producing more of the construction and STEM skills we need for delivery.”

CIHT’s communications director Daniel Isichei said that the Institution will call on any new Government to substantially invest in infrastructure and recognise the importance of transportation to the UK's economic development both nationally and throughout the regions.

“We will also continue to highlight the important role transportation professionals play in the development of the economy and the need to ensure we have the required skills to deliver on any infrastructure investment,” he added.

CIHT will also call for the future Government to recognise transport infrastructure as an enabler of industry, business, housing and the success of the wider economy. “Certainty of funding and investment is fundamental, so the ongoing development of industrial and housing strategies remains key,” Daniel Isichei said.

It was also announced yesterday that the Department for Transport has appointed Bernadette Kelly as its new Permanent Secretary, following Philip Rutnam’s recent move to the Home Office.

Bernadette Kelly was previously the DfT’s rail group director general and has spent her entire career in the Civil Service.

“I am delighted to be appointed as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport,” she said. “DfT is a great department and I have hugely enjoyed working here in rail. It is an honour to be asked to lead the department and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood commented: “Bernadette has an excellent track record, having worked in a number of departments across Government. She will bring that experience together with her strong leadership skills to her new role and I look forward to working with her on the challenges ahead.”