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Think-tank boss says 10-year plan is dead

A FORMER Whitehall adviser on transport has labelled the Government's 10-year transport blueprint launched by John Prescott just three years ago as 'dead'.

Tony Grayling, associate director of think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, said Labour's transport strategy had been dogged by reorganisations and reshuffles.

Writing in Political Quarterly magazine, Grayling says: 'Although the first progress report published in December 2002 claimed a good start, to all intents and purposes the current 10-year transport plan is dead. Its key target to cut road traffic congestion has been abandoned.

'Instead, traffic congestion is now forecast to increase and carbon dioxide emissions from road transport to grow.'

He added: 'The disintegration of transport policy can be traced in departmental reorganisations and cabinet reshuffles.'

A total of eight ministers have held the brief since 1997 – John Prescott, Gavin Strang, John Reid, Helen Liddell, Gus Macdonald, Stephen Byers, John Spellar and now Alistair Darling.

Last year, two major industry bodies warned the Government that it would fail to deliver the key objectives of its 10-year Transport Plan and will not reduce congestion by its claimed margin, dealing a blow to business in the process (Fleet NewsNet, July 10, 2003).

The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) both published highly critical annual reports on the progress of the plan, with the CBI claiming that businesses will get no 'meaningful benefit' from the schemes to improve the UK's transport network.

It said: 'Business is very concerned at the slow progress over the last year towards the plan's original aim of delivering a transport system to rival the best in Europe. While there have been some improvements and a number of positive announcements, much more needs to be done.'

The CBI said it also believed that the plan is so far behind its aims that congestion will not be cut by 6% by 2010 and business will feel the full impact.

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