Unfilled pledges by Government and exclusions by local authorities are preventing the North East's infrastructure sector from sharing in the economic recovery, a civil engineering leader has said.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual dinner, chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (North East), John Dickson, said: “If you compare the news from the South or Scotland with news from the North East of England, the contrast is striking.
“Money for infrastructure improvements has been promised to the North East. But with very few exceptions it has yet to hit the ground. In the South and in Scotland, fellow CECA members are reporting full order books, growth and difficulties with recruitment.
“In the North East, where things undoubtedly feel better, that is probably because they have stopped getting worse. Growth remains a distant prospect.”
Dickson, who is also chairman Owen Pugh Group, based at Dudley, Northumberland, added that while the construction sector was essential for growth, the national focus had moved from infrastructure to skills.
The CECA was therefore working with partners in the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Association for Consultancy and Engineering to lobby both national and local government for increased investment in the region’s infrastructure.
A seminar was also being planned for early in the new year to refocus on the infrastructure work required, while challenging national government to provide the necessary funds.
On another matter causing concern in the North East – changes to policy on the public procurement of civil engineering projects – Dickson said: “Sometimes it seems that our local authorities, in managing their supply chains, favour contractors and suppliers from outside the region.
“However innocent or unwitting this may be, it is not acceptable.
“CECA maintains close links with relevant local authorities and is in the forefront of raising this issue repeatedly with them.”