By Phil Cameron
People often say to me "Oi you, what are you doing in my garden?", but the other thing they ask is "Phil, how did you come to be JAG UK Chair and what is your vision for your time in the post?" Well I am here to answer that latter question today!
I have worked for Gloucestershire County Council for 28 years (I know, they left school young in those days). I started in Highway Maintenance where I was responsible for the Inspection and Inventory data that was collected on the highway network, including the trunk roads and motorways. The data was collected using Husky Hunters and downloaded into the Exor Maintenance Manager System - the County Council was way ahead of the curve! This represented a beneficial first step into the work of a highway authority, which included amongst other things walking the entire length of the M5 in Gloucestershire!
Gradually I became involved in other aspects of highway maintenance including bridges and winter maintenance and even Traveller Services, managing unauthorised Traveller camps and permanent Gypsy Site Management. Working on the Gloucestershire Highways contract with Skanska was also a very positive experience, meaning I influenced the way we conduct are own highway authority works as well.
Whilst all the above were going along, the New Roads and Street Works Act became increasingly included in my work, something I was told was beneficial since it would give me permanent job security (these were more innocent times in local government!)
I have since been Street Works Manager for Gloucestershire County Council for 6 years, and represented South West JAG on JAG(UK) for 4 years. I was appointed as Traffic Manager for the County Council in 2011. I also manage all the permanent traffic signals in the County.
In addition to all this, I am the Highways-side Chair of South West HAUC, the Chair of the Signing, Lighting and Guarding Sub Group working with the Department for Transport on the rewrite of the Safety Code of Practice for Street and Road Works, a member of HAUC(UK) on which I represent South West HAUC, a member of HAUC(UK)’s Communications Group, and was the Vice Chair of JAG(UK) for the past 6 years. The Vice Chair role has been very interesting. There have been two big wins for me whilst in this role, the production of the new safety code and the creation of the performance scorecard, both ground breaking projects that have been a massive amount of work! These projects only happened because a lot of people put in a lot of effort.
I have recently been appointed the Chair of JAG(UK), taking over the mantle from Roger Culpin of Durham County Council. I would like to take the opportunity to thanks Roger for all his work with the JAG and HAUC communities over many years, his knowledge of the inspection code of practice and the trials and tribulations of getting this work competed is second to none. We are lucky that Roger is still tacking an active role within the community, we’d miss his attention to detail, his sense of humour and his love of a pint!
Additionally, I am very pleased to welcome Jenny Hull from St Helens as the new vice chair of JAG(UK), Jenny is an active JAG member and has already helped with the systems group outputs, she has also been involved with the Permits Forum for many years. It is great to have a lady on board and one of Jen’s best qualities is that she is keen and helpful.
Another recent change for JAG UK is the appointment of Paul Chandler from Westminster City Council, Paul has been seconded to Geoplace two days a week and will focus on technology and the JAG(UK) website management. Paul is also involved with the Permits Forum, Systems Group and the HAUC(UK) Communications Group. Although I have had to start to watch Eastenders again just to ensure that I can understand exactly what Paul is saying. My cockney is coming on in leaps and bounds!
The difficulty for us all is balancing the needs of our day job, the expectations of our own employers and how we balance the needs of JAG/HAUC etc. On a more positive note being involved has helped me develop my career and gain confidence that I can bring back to the workplace.
One thing I am convinced of is the need for utilities, contractors and highway authorities to work closely together, liaising with each other with the aim of minimising disruption for road users, whilst assisting the utility companies to continue to provide their essential services that everyone relies on. To this end, it is important that we try new ways of working that help the industry to continually improve for the benefit of members of the public. To assist with this, Performance Indicators are essential in helping us measure successes, and for this reason I was pleased to take up the position of Highways-side Chair of the HAUC(UK) Performance Management Working Group in 2010. The other big area is the EToN systems, as this is where so much of our work is done. But they were often neglected and this is why I proposed the creation of the HAUC(UK) Systems Group, where authorities and undertakers can come together and discuss system related issues that are affecting the industry. It was gratifying to see our Section 81 advice note fly off the shelves at the convention earlier this year and you can indeed find it elsewhere on this fine website.
I am proud to represent all the highways authorities in the UK. JAG(UK) has made a difference and has forged stronger connections with NJUG and the DfT. There are however lots more exciting changes to come; the role out of permits is gathering pace, potential changes to the SROH, maybe new 7 day working regulations and inspections code, may all lead to new ways of working. But are these changes good for the industry as a whole? That remains to be seen, this makes the role of JAG(UK), NJUG, HAUC (UK) and local HAUC’s even more important. We also need to move with the times, start to look at new ways of working, embracing new technological advances and potentially new systems. And although we need to reduce the regulatory burden, there will always be a place for “the good old regs”.
I look forward to being there for you… well for at least the next two years!
As for the first question "Oi you, what are you doing in my garden?" well, that’s another story.
If you wish to get in touch, have a query or even better, want to volunteer for a more active role in the JAG(UK) community, drop me a line at [email protected]
Phil Cameron is the Chair of JAG(UK)