By Jerry McConkey
It was with great pleasure that I accepted the request to become the new Chief Executive Officer of JAG(UK). I have accepted the role for a two-year period and I really hope to move the organisation forward in these very challenging times. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the support of my employer Sefton Council because without their vision and committment, my role in JAG(UK) would not be possible.
The role of CEO is new to JAG(UK). The creation of HAUC England, to mirror Welsh HAUC, Scottish RAUC and Northern Ireland HAUC has meant a new focus for HAUC(UK). Whilst the 4 national RAUC/HAUCs will concentrate in the main on operational issues, giving guidance and advice on existing regulations, codes of practice etc., HAUC(UK) has become a strategic group looking to the future and how the industry needs to change and improve both for those of us who work in it and more importantly the people we serve.
As CEO, I will continue to joint chair HAUC(UK) and we will work to bring together as many benefits as possible, drawing on expert views and experience across the UK. Similarly, I see my role as one that works closely with the Chair of JAG(UK) and the JAG(UK) Strategy and Research Group to ensure that JAG(UK) also considers our own strategic aims and is best placed to deal with the challenges ahead, working with Governments and advising them on appropriate initiatives to make improvements wherever possible and making the highway authority case on any issues which may affect how we operate and deliver our services.
I take up this role at a time of great change across the UK. Almost every week I hear of someone leaving the industry and we are haemorrhaging experience and expertise at an alarming rate. JAG(UK) is here to try and fill that gap, by helping colleagues across the UK through advise, guidance, and, as much as possible, face to face meetings. Clearly our resources are limited and almost all of us have a day job too, but the way in which we can support everyone is really encouraging. Many of the issues we face on a daily basis have often been experienced elsewhere, and JAG(UK) plays a key role in drawing on those experiences and solutions and assisting colleagues wherever possible.
JAG(UK) has recently been involved in issues across the UK, not least supporting the review process for the Scottish Road Works Commissioner, assisting Wales in discussions regarding the implications of possible adoption of permit schemes in the country, along with discussions in Northern Ireland about the changing face of the way services are delivered and how we can support each other
In England, we have introduced HAUC England to support colleagues with all aspects of existing legislation and codes of practice which is distinct from HAUC(UK) which will concentrate of strategic improvements to the industry, drawing on expertise across the UK. Recently, by working together we were able to produce a coordinated safety code of practice, and we continue to work across the UK on Training & Accreditation.
Working closely with DfT, we have offered support with any review of the Lane Rental process, along with the potential introduction of 7-day working on A roads.
Our JAG(UK) relationship with GeoPlace continues to blossom, to the extent that they have committed to additional support for JAG(UK) by creating a part time post to support David Capon in his role as JAG(UK) Manager. This additional support is being delivered 2 days per week by Paul Chandler from Westminster City Council and is being funded solely by GeoPlace. I am extremely grateful to GeoPlace for this excellent and welcome initiative and I hope we can continue to support each other for many years to come. I hope that the industry realises the excellent value for money the annual £450 subscription brings. Don’t forget, if you have any issues, we’re here to help so please get in touch. You can also volunteer to help too! One of Paul’s first tasks is to revitalise our website, so you’ll be seeing much more communication via that means in the coming months.
Finally, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Roger Culpin (Durham) and Neil Ainsworth (West Berkshire) who have recently stood down as Chairs of JAG(UK) and the JAG(UK) Strategy & Research Group respectively. In so doing, I’d like to welcome Phil Cameron (Gloucestershire) as the new Chair of JAG(UK), Jenny Hull (St Helens) as the new vice chair and Steve Daly (Conway) as the new Strategy & Research Chair. I look forward to continuing our excellent work with everyone. Don’t forget, if you want to get in touch, please drop me a line at [email protected] or on 07785278098.