Government lacks political will to drive through transport projects

8th October 2012

Commenting on the speech by new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "It is refreshing to hear an incoming transport secretary set out his stall almost wholly around economic growth.

Businesses will welcome Patrick McLoughlin's robust defence of High Speed 2 and his insistence that it should reach the great cities of the North and Scotland as well. Companies will also welcome new funding to tackle road pinch-points this year. At last we are seeing some signs of action with some clear timescales. "Now let's see the actual action. Too many major schemes, including the widening of the A14, won't be in place for years to come. Tackling the problem of aviation capacity has been kicked into the long grass, despite comments around getting cross-party support for a solution. Lingering questions over rail franchising must be tackled as well. "McLoughlin asked why we can't build infrastructure as quickly as we did in the nineteenth century. The answer is simple. Government lacks the political will to drive through projects. It's no accident that the legislative calendar in the 1850s was full of railway development acts, not the political self-indulgence of the 21st century. If Patrick McLoughlin can help his colleagues find the bottle to get on with the vital infrastructure that we need to underpin growth and confidence, then he will have done more than any transport secretary in living memory."  

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