Martin Tugwell's Presidential blog - 6/7 November

7th Nov 2019

The arrival of the first week of November means that it is time for Highways UK. This year’s show was the 5th and it has become a key event in the diary for the profession.


CIHT is a principal supporter of Highways UK and it provides us with the opportunity to meet many members face-to-face as well the opportunity to encourage new members.

Highways UK has grown year-on-year, to the extent that it attracts some 6,000 visitors over the 2 days: with its extensive programme of technical presentations spread over a number of stages the event provides the opportunity to tap into the latest thinking on a range of key issues for the profession.

Over the course of the 2 days CIHT runs a programme of talks out of its ‘hub’ and it was a delight to kick that programme off on the first morning. Just prior to that the main conference stage had hosted a session in which the Sub-national Transport Bodies had set out how they are providing strategic leadership on some of the most challenging issues of the day.

The evening saw the annual Laurates Dinner – the opportunity for visitors to Highways UK to come together in celebration of our profession. It was my particular pleasure to be asked to present this year’s Laurate awards to former CIHT President Steve Rowsell and Chief Executive of Transport Scotland Roy Brannen.

The second day on the main conference stage kicked off with a presentation by myself, former ADEPT President Neil Gibson, and Anna Delvecchio in which we shared the discussions to date around the potential of a Highways Sector Deal. Whilst it’s still early days the ensuing debate suggested that there is both interest and appetite to explore the potential of a Sector Deal further. As one of the leading professional institutions in the sector, CIHT has facilitated an initial discussion with the broader institution and trade association community.

The questions raised in the debate – all captured using Slido – will be incredibly helpful in shaping the way forward and CIHT will continue to use its ability to convene discussions as part of that process.

The two days at the NEC in Birmingham were full on in terms of activities – the combination of presenting and meeting colleagues means the days are long but always informative and enjoyable. Nevertheless it was with a touch of relief that I caught the train back to Oxford at the end of the second day.

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