Kent Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kent Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Kent Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Director Ian Kent
Signalling Power WCML
First established in 1987, Kent Group is made up of three
companies: IHC Engineering and the two UK rail companies
which constitute Kent PHK Ltd in Scotland. Based in a head
office in Nottingham, the company was established by Paul
Kent aided by a family friend and his two sons, Kevin and Ian.
The business remains family run to this day and now employs
over 120 full-time staff and has an annual turnover of circa £18
million. Director Ian Kent tells
The Parliamentary Review
the company’s commitment to safety and the problems that
surround control periods in the rail industry.
Delivering electrical and mechanical engineering to the UK’s railways, highways
and industry, we pride ourselves on making the difference to our clients through
challenging traditional industry methods and ensuring engineering assurance and
cost-efficiency is of foremost importance.
Having seen the business diversify and grow from its early beginnings, I still feel
the need to ensure this continues and we aim to increase our offering to make
certain that our market share is not only sustained but increased. This growth and
investment is planned despite the current uncertainty in the UK but is essential for the
expected demand on our network.
The rail side of the business
In the UK, we work primarily for a small handful of rail clients including Siemens and
Network Rail with whom we go back to Railtrack and British Rail days. Wedeliver
»Director: Ian Kent
»Established in 1987
»Based in Nottingham and
»Services: Electrical, mechanical
and civil engineering
»No. of employees: 120
»Turnover: circa £18 million
»NIC & EIC approved
»IET Enterprise Partners
Kent Group
Highlighting best practice
electrification and plant projects
from early development to design,
construction and commissioning.
We undertake a diverse range of
services which can see our staff work
in the deepest tunnels in London to
the top of mountains in Glencoe.
Even after 31 years in this industry, I
am often still surprised by what it takes
to keep trains running on time on this
Victorian infrastructure. Programmes
Paddington Station 24/7
and the
superb documentary on Crossrail go
some way but I still think the public
would be very surprised to see what it
really takes, and perhaps a little more
considerate to the many thousands of
staff committed to delivering a better
future for our railways.
As an SME and a family business, we
have had to work extremely hard to
achieve success in this industry, and
we have done this with no support,
government grants or bank loans but
through reinvestment of the profits we
make back into the business. Ourwork
ethic comes from our father and the
four brothers who were brought up on
this and we have had to learn how to
best mentor and enthuse our workforce
and supply chain. This is not easy; it’s
not just a case of throwing money at
issues but is about finding like-minded
people to grow and develop with us
while recognising any weakness and
the need for improvement.
All the directors have a strong
engineering background, and we
have strong links with The Institution
of Engineering and Technology with
whom we are enterprise partners. This
helps us to recruit and develop our staff
and facilitates education and interface
with other industries and academia.
We have a long-term apprenticeship
programme that has seen continual
growth for over 25 years, and we
currently have fiveapprentices.
Our engineering business is also a
diverse operation, and we work on
projects which range from staircases
and footbridges to smart motorway
structures and even a chimney
extension at Guys Hospital.
Safety is the foremost priority of the
industry and remains our key focus. We
continually look to innovate and remove
risk wherever possible, and having held
a Personal Track Safety Card for over 30
years, I am fully aware of the dangers on
site. These are unlike any other industry:
we have to deal with exposed high-
voltage electrical systems. It takes a vast
degree of planning and competence
to access these sites. Despite the many
hazards, workforce safety has seen
massive improvements over the past ten
years, which is a credit to all who work
in the field as well as the professionalism
of the teams they support.
In the past nine years, there have been
no passenger fatalities as a result of
a train derailment or collision. This
makes the UK the safest major railway
in Europe and one of the safest in
Guys Hospital roof
extension (above);
principal supply point
Even after 31
years in this
industry, I am
often still
surprised by
what it takes
to keep trains
running on
time on this
The problems surrounding
control periods
Funding in the railway industry is
completed in control periods, and
on April 1, we saw Control Period
6 commence with an estimated
government spend of £42 billion
approved for a five-year period. The
problem this has always brought to
the industry is the delay in starting a
control period and the need to have
sufficient projects developed in the
previous period to ensure we hit the
ground running rather than play catch-
up. This makes any business working in
the rail industry very nervous to invest
during this transition, but we have
looked more holistically and aim to be
in prime position to support ourclients.
The railway is very cyclical, and
strategies and processes that fall by
the wayside are often reintroduced
in another form some years later.
For example, contracting strategies
such as hub and spoke were almost
abolished due to poor performances
and cost impacts when delayed but are
slowly being reintroduced without due
reflection of the past.
Politics and public support play a key
part in this industry, and over the past 30
years, we have seen a lot of the good,
the bad and the downright ugly. Once
Brexit is finally resolved, hopefully we can
all get back to the day job and ensure
this country is running at an optimallevel.
This needs to be underpinned by a
good government which supports
industries to thrive and communities to
flourish, ensuring we all have a better
future. The recently introduced term
“career politicians” hits the nail on the
head, and it’s these individuals who
need to take a look in the mirror and
get back on board with supporting the
people whom theyrepresent.
These are exciting times with the
continued introduction of smart
motorways to improve Britain’s roads,
HS2, the opening of Crossrail and the
new European Train Control System.
The digital railway is set to be introduced
on the key London North Eastern route,
and the commissioning of phases 1-2 in
2022 to 2024 will be the spearhead of
a new, more cost-effective solution for
the travelling public. We aim to be a key
part of these once-in-a-lifetime projects.
These are
exciting times
in the UK rail
Our team in Glasgow
Our team in Mansfield

This article was sponsored by Kent Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster