We have been asking the government to get on and deliver shovel ready projects.
Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Products Association
"If we hesitate for too long, we will be a second rate country with energy interruptions and a transport network that doesn’t allow us to perform", a representative of the Infrastructure Alliance has said.
Speaking at a fringe event at Conservative Party conference, Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Products Association was talking about using infrastructure investment to encourage economic growth.
Montgomery said that there "should be nothing stopping us getting back to growth".
"We have been asking the government to get on and deliver shovel ready projects", she said.
The Infrastructure Alliance made up of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Construction Products Association and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), represents the £20billion a year infrastructure industry.
Montgomery called on the government to in-still confidence that it has a plan for the UK economy to move forward.
"Uncertainty is more damaging than anything else in terms of investment…Let’s have some long-term thinking", she said.
In terms of investment, Montgomery said, "the government needs to look at how we leverage private investment to deliver world-class infrastructure."
Councillor Mike Whitby, former leader of Birmingham City Council until May 2012 informed the audience, that when he became leader of Birmingham City Council, he had only £10 million to transform New Street Station.
Rebuilt in 1966, the station was designed to cope with 16 million passengers a year, but at present day is carrying 33 million people a year.
"We raised £680 million, and it was tortuous.
"We levered in £200 million from the private sector, and £348 million of public sector money divided through regional transport programmes", he said.
He ascertained that the "common enemy" of any infrastructure investment is the Treasury.
Whitby called civil servants "risk adverse" to infrastructure projects.
However he noted that he did not think the private sector was the "panacea".
"We had as many bad deals with ill-though out private sector arrangements and it is the most outrageous one-sided relationship that we have ever had.
"As politicians we are the custodians of people’s money and we have to make sure the yield is right, the yield is fair and that it adds value", he said.
Advocating for private sector investment, Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire and member of the communities and local government select committee, asked why infrastructure such as water is funded through private investment, but our roads remain publicly funded.
"We need to get large scale private investment in the national roads network", she said.
Wheeler urged people, "not to look to the state to make all of the plans and pay all of the bills".
"We need to use the power of the state to unlock the dynamism of the market", she said.
Dr Richard Wellings, transport expert at the Institute of Economic Affairs spoke of some "fast" infrastructure projects that can deliver growth in the short-term.
"Certain projects would really boost investor confidence, not just in the transport and energy fields, but in the general economy", he said.
As 85 per cent of passengers and 65 per cent of freight still travel by road, Wellings urged the government to take roads seriously, if they are serious about growth.
He called for quick gains such as removing unnecessary traffic lights, bus lanes and cycle lanes that could "increase productivity and save the taxpayer money".
Rather than building new infrastructure, ultimately, Wellings said it is "far cheaper to get a lot more people on existing infrastructure".