04 July 2017

As part of a series of video interviews with industry leaders working in the infrastructure sector, we interviewed Phil Briscoe, Managing Director at public and corporate affairs agency Newington.

Phil discusses a number of challenges facing the infrastructure sector, as well as how to improve the delivery process. Listen to what he has to say in this video.

Video transcript

The challenge with infrastructure delivery (0:07 – 0:29)

I think the the challenge of infrastructure delivery in the UK previously has been that it's all too often been reactive. It's been a question of how do we keep the lights on, how do we keep the water flowing, how do we deal with the issues that we've created. I think hopefully the National Infrastructure Assessment gives us an opportunity to plan for the future on a more proactive basis and address those issues before they come up.

The impact of devolution (0:29 – 1:01)

Devolution won't make a particular practical impact to the delivery of infrastructure... where I think it will make a difference is that it enables some of those new areas and regions to have a voice in government and in the delivery of infrastructure and services.

I think for many years Londoners have had an advantage: it had a mayor, it had an assembly and it was able to lobby for Crossrail and the Thames Tideway tunnel ahead of cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. I think now with their own enabled authorities and leaders, they too will be able to lobby only on the national stage to ensure that they have their fair share of the infrastructure pie.

The big issue for clients is decision-making (1:01 – 1:21)

The big issue for clients in the infrastructure space in the UK is around decision-making and I think that's decision making at a national political level but also decision making through the planning and consenting process. Many of the international clients and investors that I work with frankly look on with astonishment when they see how long it takes to make a decision and get a project moving in the UK.

Using technology to improve the infrastructure consultation process (1:21 – 2:01)

The challenge with infrastructure public consultation and engagement is that quite often the projects are so large that there are so many individuals involved in that process and where the decision has to be made that reflects the public or the common good, many of those individuals will be disappointed and they will feel excluded from that process.

The golden word with public consultation now is technology; it gives us so many more opportunities to involve, to educate, to inform, to listen and to respond to residents and interested parties throughout that process. I think we can look at digital delivery across every possible channel: we can look at things like 3d animations, virtual reality, augmented reality... to ensure that the consultation process becomes one of collaboration.

Involving young people (2:01 – 2:32)

I think involving young people in the process and the decisions around infrastructure is absolutely key to our future and I think we can deliver more of that by using digital platforms and digital engagement in the consultation process.

But I think there's also a bigger piece around jobs and skills and training and making sure that the younger generations realise that this actually is not only an exciting field but it's an opportunity to get involved, to have a career in this field. Ultimately, I think you need to look at the younger generations not simply as critics of our past mistakes but as the architects and engineers of our future society.

For more perspectives on infrastructure, read our industry report featuring 13 in-depth interviews with industry leaders and key decision makers in the infrastructure sector.

Perspectives on infrastructure

I think involving young people in the process and the decisions around infrastructure is absolutely key to our future and I think we can deliver more of that by using digital platforms...
Phil Briscoe, Managing Director, Newington

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

Views from industry leaders and key decision makers, along with survey results from 1,651 members of the general public.
Read report