On Tuesday 6th February 2018 the Spanish Chamber of Commerce held an event titled “Infrastructure and Procurement Opportunities in the West” in collaboration with Freeths LLP; member of the Chamber. Freeths is a major UK law firm with 11 offices in key cities, specialising in construction, energy, real estate and planning. The event took place at the firm’s head office in Manchester and constituted the Chamber’s first event to take place outside of London, marking the start of our efforts to carry out more sectorial events in different parts of the United Kingdom.

The event saw a great turn out of 30 guests from approximately 25 companies from sectors ranging from construction to engineering, with many having travelled from cities such as London, Birmingham and Darlington. After an early start, guests had the opportunity to meet each other over a coffee before being asked to take their seats. They were then welcomed to the event and a series of introductions were made by James Driver, Partner at Freeths, who explained the structure of the day’s event.

Steve Burns, Head of Economic Development at Bolton Council, was then the first to speak. He spoke about the town’s ‘Bolton 2030’ strategy for growth which focuses on factors such as employment, health, business growth, housing, embracing a digital future and the Bolton Vision partnership. He spoke about the scheme’s challenges but also the opportunities it brings, including housing and employment growth, before going on to describe Bolton’s town centre framework and the recent investment in this.

Martin Lawton of Blacc Consulting LLP spoke next on the topic of manufacture led construction. He began by introducing his firm and what they do, detailing how they are construction, project, programme and portfolio management specialists who have a great deal of industry experience. He then described Blacc’s vision for revolutionising the construction industry and the evolution of the modular assembly toolkit, before providing a variety of case studies; looking principally at the layout of schools.

David Fisken, Head of Business Attraction at the West Midlands Growth Company was the next to speak. He spoke of the company’s 7 remit areas before giving an introduction to the West Midlands and their recent major developments. He then spoke of the firm’s regional economic plan and the transformational and enabling sectors that this involves, highlighting the vital importance of digital in this. He highlighted the opportunities with transport, energy, life sciences and healthcare, housing, the High Speed 2 project and transformational regeneration projects. He finished his talk by highlighting the main motivations for investing in the West Midlands, which include connectivity, its rich and growing talent pool and the fact that it is the most successful UK region for FDI.

Following a coffee break in which guests had the opportunity to share their impressions of the speakers, Andris Bankovskis spoke on the subject of UK energy. He began by highlighting that the three objectives of UK energy policy are the security of supply, sustainability and least cost before going on to speak about new energy technology and the opportunities developing in refurbishment, smart technologies and waste management to name a few. He finally went on to speak about several of the current energy projects in the UK.

The final speaker of the morning was Jason Richards, Partner at Freeths, who spoke about the legislative framework for Public Private Partnerships and the UK Organisational Structure. He described the key features of a PPP framework, giving examples, before speaking about the main features of the UK’s organisational framework. He finally spoke about the Five Case Model, touching on Brexit, before providing a summary of the issues faced by investors.

Following the last talk the guests had the opportunity to network with each other over lunch. As the attendees discussed the talks it was clear to see that they had found them useful and highly insightful. The success of this event was promising and we look forward to organising more events of this nature in the future.

If you would like to know more about this kind of events and others organised by the Chamber, do take a look at the Upcoming Events section of our website or subscribe to our electronic newsletter for biweekly updates.


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