ICE President Peter Hansford visits the East of England

Peter Hansford, the 146th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers made the last regional visit of his presidency to his home region of the East of England on July 1st.  I was lucky enough to accompany Peter and his party as he spend the day in and around Ipswich and afterwards, at the ICE East of England Merit Awards Dinner at the Belstead Brook Manor Hotel.

Also in the party were Peters wife Pam and President’s apprentice Constance Chakanyuka. You can find out more about the President’s Apprentices here.  Also accompanying the president for his tour were ICE East of England Regional Director Glen Owen, Regional Committee Chair Chris Graves and Regional Communications Exec Chris Dodson and myself.

The visit started with a visit to the Haven Gateway Partnership at their offices in The Centre on Colchester Business Park.  The Haven Gateway Partnership was created in 2001, to provide a framework through which its partners – from both the public and private sectors – could work together to promote economic opportunities and secure the future prosperity of this international gateway to the UK.

Over coffee the party heard from Haven Gateway Chief Executive David Ralph about the organisations role and aims.  The President was pleased to hear David say that if you get the infrastructure right everything else usually falls into place.  David cited the nearby and recently completed new grade separated A12  junction 28 as a prime example.  This new junction already has stimulated interest in the business park and will lead to further infrastructure improvements in the area. As an aside, David operates a twitter feed for Haven Gateway at @HavenGatewayCEO.

Haven Gateway Partnership CEO David Ralph

After an interesting stop at Haven gateway the party re-assembled at the Belstead Brook Manor Hotel and joined other ICE committee and RST members including Regional MDO’s Roger Chantrelle and Louisa Rix, and Regional Co-ordinator (and organiser of the days events) Heather Baker.

Next stop was a visit to the newly completed University Campus Suffolk at Suffolk New College where the president and party spoke to graduates and students.   Past President David Orr visited the College in 2008 when construction was in progress so it was particularly interesting for the President’s party to see the completed building and facilities.  He was very impressed by the standard of tuition and pleased the civil engineering is a popular subject.

New Suffolk New College Building
The party talking to students and lecturers
The President with students from UCS
Internal space in the Suffolk New College buildings

The party then moved on to the Port of Felixstowe for a visit to the newly completed Phase 1 Berths 8&9.  On arrival there was particular interest from the group in the port model in the reception of both felixstowe and Harwich ports and the surrounding area.  An introductory presentation was given on the history behind the port and the new deepwater facilities along with an insight into how the works were constructed by civil engineering contractor Costain.  More info on the design and construction of the new facilities can be obtained here.

There then followed a trip out to see the new facilities up close.  The most obvious feature were the seven enormous quayside container cranes capable of unloading the worlds largest container vessels and the rubber tyred cranes servicing the container stacks on land.  After spending 20 minutes or so inspecting the facilities the group were then driven through the existing Trinity Terminal facilites to see the scale of the port facilities on site.

Two particular facts stuck in the mind after the visit.  The first was that for every 5 containers that are imported through the Port of Felixstowe only 3 containers are exported and of those 3 only one contains a manufactured product – the other two generally containing our waste that is exported for recycling.  The other fact was that 60% of all containers imported into the UK enter through the port.  As Phil Elsdon – Port Director of Civil Engineering said – the Port is the UK’s best kept secret!

Members of the party admiring the port model in reception
Hearing about the design and construction of the new port facilities
The President (centre) with Andrew Harston (left) of POF and Chris Graves (right) ICE EoE Chairman
View of the existing port facilities
One of the seven enormous quayside cranes on the new berth
ICE President Peter Hansford and wife Pam

With the schedule falling behind the party then moved on to the last visit of the day to the centre of nearby Felixstowe Town to view the Hamilton Road Shared Space project.  The party were shown around by Luke Barber of Suffolk County Council and were all impressed by what has been achieved to integrate pedestrians and vehicles.  I was particularly impressed by the quality of the works and attention to detail in the block laying.  The President had previously been provided with photographs of the road before the shared space scheme was introduced and all agreed that the transformation was amazing.

The party hearing about the shared space scheme
View along the shared space sheme
Regional Director Glen Owen and Presidents Apprentice Constance Chakanyuka
President Peter Hansford hearing about the scheme
Detail of the scheme with provision for visually impaired users

With the visits part of the day complete the party returned to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for the evening function.  For some it was a chance to relax and freshen up.  For committee members and Regional Co-ordinator Heather Baker it was a chance to get the final touches made to the venue, and to sort out the Merit Ward and Photography competition certificates signed and framed and ready for the dinner.

The Merit Awards dinner commenced at 7.30pm with the prizegiving ceremony.  The President introduced the ceremony with a speech recalling the highlights of his day and re-iterating his view that infrastructure is the key to economic development.  He then handed over to Chris Dodson who announced the winner of the ICE East of England Photographic Competition and then to Regional Director Glen Owen who announced the winners of the Merit Awards competition for projects completed in the 12 months to 1st June 2011.

Guests enjoying pre dinner drinks on the Willow Terrace
Chris Dodson announcing the winners of the Photographic Competition
Regional Director Glen Owen announcing the Merit Award winners

Further details of the winning projects and the organisations involved can be found here.  The projects winning awards are listed below:

Physical Achievement Category

  • M25 DBFO Widening Junction 27 – 30 – Exceptional Merit
  • Wisbech Flood Defence Scheme – Merit
  • Oikos No.1 Jetty Repair and Upgrading, Canvey Island – Merit

Team Achievement Category

  • A12 Junction 28 Grade Separated Junction, Colchester – Exceptional Merit
  • East Lane Bawdsey Emergency Works – Merit
  • Wisbech Flood Defence Scheme – Merit
Technical Excellence and Innovation
  • B1115 Stowmarket Relief Road – Merit
  • Oikos No.1 Jetty Repair and Upgrading – Merit
  • A421 Improvement Scheme, M1 Junction 13 to Bedford – Merit
  • Goddard Road Salt Barn – Merit
  • Luton Sixth Form College – Merit
  • 3 St James Court, Jarrolds, Norwich – Merit

I was lucky enough to be involved with the A12 Junction 28 Grade Separated Junction project and joined the team in collecting the award.

The A12 Junction 28 team collecting their Exceptional Merit award.

After all the awards had been presented, Regional Executive Board Chairman Chris Graves  made a special presentation of an Award for Merit to long serving ICE member Peter Rennison in recognition of over 30 years of service to the ICE in the East of England.

Region Chairman Chris Graves presenting Peter Rennison with his award

An excellent dinner then followed the formal part of the evening with many staying on to the wee small hours to talk with new and old colleagues and to celebrate all that is good about the civil engineering industry in the east of England.

All in all a very good day was had.

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