M25 One Community Conference
The Connect Plus One Community Conference 2017 was held at Church House in London on the 2nd March. Hosted by Steph McGovern – the BBC Breakfast Business presenter – we had over 180 delegates including investors, stakeholders, suppliers and advisors to the M25 Contract as well as the Connect Plus and Connect Plus Services teams.
The event was fully supported by the Office of Rail and Road, Transport Focus and Highways England. We were able to address some of the most important challenges we face as a community together with the inevitable changes the M25 Network will go through over the next decade and beyond.
The centrepiece of the One Community Conference was the four hubs where we considered the impacts of Intelligent Mobility hosted by Atkins, Better Journeys hosted jointly by Connect Plus Services and Highways England. Future Ready hosted by WSP and Connected Assets hosted jointly by Connect Plus and Connect Plus Services.
The line-up of speakers was also impressive. Dave Coplin, and Envisioner and Futurologist from Microsoft, opened the conference with a high-octane presentation on the power of technology to deliver our future. Nick Harris – the new Executive Director for Operations at Highways England, and Alex Williams – the acting Manager Director for Transport Planning for TfL, brought us back to Earth by looking at the blueprint for Highways England’s operations and the Mayors Transport Strategy. Phil Hoare, Byron Tomkinson, David Symons and David Simpson then gave us the big sell on the hub themes.
The afternoon was introduced by Steve Gooding from the RAC Foundation who gave a humorous take on Europe’s biggest roundabout, encouraging us to shout loud and be proud about our Network. Peter Antolik – the Road Regulator was equally enthusiastic as he laid the ground for future investment in Road Plan 2 and gave thumbs up for the way Highways England had performed over the past two years. Phil Wilbraham – Expansion Director for Heathrow, and Chris Taylor – Highways England Director for Complex Infrastructure Projects both gave terrific overviews of their respective programmes. The panel with Steve, Phil, Peter and Chris was very engaging.
Before Steph wrapped up the day by asking the audience to tackle a few of the many questions we had via our specially designed App (which is available to download), I gave an overview of the Connect Plus journey to date bringing out successes, our culture and the importance of our collaboration into focus as we face the future.
I quoted Henry Ford who said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is a success.” I think this sums up our community – it certainly summed up the Conference.
A huge thank you to all those who made this possible from Connect Plus and Connect Plus Services. Particular mention must go to Byron Tomkinson, David Simpson and Ian Walker and their teams – you know who you are. Great job! To Joe Jones, Tara Smith and Fran Formoso – my unsung heroes!
Thanks also to Kelly Regan-Mears for her support behind the scenes. I am of course indebted to the work of Steve Rogers from Amplified Communications without whom the event would not have had the Midas touch.
Chief Executive of Connect Plus (M25)