Fellowship Type, Single Company Fellowship, Industry Sector, Ethics & Sustainability, Manufacturing, Transport | August 2011
Andrew Bingham MP Fellowship with Aggregate Industries
When elected in 2010, I was very keen to join the Industry and Parliament Trust Fellowship Scheme. Designed to give parliamentarians the opportunity to link up with a particular industry sector, it allows MPs to really get under the skin of an industry and see at first hand how it works, the impact of legislation and the challenges facing that sector at the particular time.
I thought carefully about which sector to look at. I wanted it to have a direct relevance to my High Peak constituency, so with that in mind I selected the quarrying industry as it employs huge numbers in the High Peak. Anyone who has flown into Manchester Airport over the High Peak will see the clear evidence with the number of limestone quarries in the area removing thousands of tons of stone a year and the jobs that the industry creates. As a former small businessman myself, I am aware that it’s not just the jobs within the quarries themselves, but it is the other jobs at companies who supply and service these sites.
Having made this decision I was matched with Aggregate Industries (AI). Ironically, AI are not big players in the High Peak quarrying industry, operating only one small site on the edge of my constituency. However, they have many sites and subsidiaries across the country carrying out all sorts of different processes, not just the quarrying of the stone, and because of the wide range of AI’s interests it was like being matched with several different companies all at once.
Aggregate Industries turned out to be a fantastic company for me to get involved with. Their CEO, Alain Bourguignon, made me very welcome at their London base and my dealings with various other company employees were always excellent. Their Communications Director, Anna Jester, provided me with a first class programme that covered the whole industry and every facet of their business. I have heard first hand from not just Members of the Board, but also from employees throughout the company, from drivers and operatives literally at the rock face, to the CEO himself. They ensured that I got the full perspective from every level and I am very grateful for the amount of time and resources they put into the Fellowship. Nothing was too much trouble and every question I had they were happy to provide me with the answer or the information I required. Whether it was difficulties of pouring concrete in huge quantities as in The Shard in London, or the transportation of stone via road, rail and sea nothing was ever too much trouble.
The principle aim of the Fellowship is to teach me as a Member of Parliament the rudiments and difficulties faced by their sector of industry. The things I have learnt over the last few months have been invaluable to me and to see first-hand how the construction industry feels any economic down turn, how it reacts to changing circumstances was a real education. I have seen how quarrying companies are very often the first to feel an economic slowdown and also the last to emerge. We discussed the National Infrastructure Plan and also the methods of Government procurement and how they can add huge costs to companies, sometimes unnecessarily.
There were surprises too, AI’s commitment to Health & Safety, working with their neighbours and their concerns for sustainability and the environment. At every site I visited, the importance placed on the safety of their employees was always paramount. Quarries, asphalt plants, concrete plants can be dangerous places. Health and Safety can be much maligned, and in some cases with good reason, but it is crucial in such potentially hazardous environments and AI were unceasing in their quest for a zero accident rate.
During the many visits I have made across the country I have seen and listened to a huge range of businesses that emanate from minerals. From concrete, to everyday household products such as paving slabs. Road building, from conception to completion and huge building projects such as the Olympic Stadium and The Shard. There is a connection that runs through all these and I have been amazed how they all link together and it has been a real education to see how those links work, both within a huge multinational company like Aggregate Industries and across other companies and society as a whole.
The Fellowship has provided me with a great opportunity to learn in great detail so much about the whole construction sector. It has been a real help to me as I fulfil my role as an MP and also has helped me as I keep close links with quarries operating within my own constituency. I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone at Aggregate Industries for their hospitality, and indeed patience with me.
The Company View
Laurie Quinn, Regional Director from Aggregate Industries said "The IPT Fellowship offers a mutual, non-political platform for Aggregate Industries and Mr Bingham to gain a better understanding of the drivers for both industry and Parliament."
"Our industry was one of the first to feel the effects of the global financial crisis in 2008 and the economic climate remains tough.It is recognised that continued investment in construction and infrastructure is vital to help aid economic recovery and gaining a further parliamentary perspective is incredibly useful for us, particularly in light of the recent Government Construction Strategy."
Interested in hosting an MP or Peer for a day as part of an IPT Fellowship? We are always looking for new host organisations from across all of the UK. To find out more about how to get involved in an IPT Fellowship, please contact: