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Casebourne blasts 'inadequate' transport spend

ICE CHIEF EXECUTIVE Mike Casebourne slammed the increase in transport spending announced in Tuesday's budget as 'totally inadequate.'

Chancellor Gordon Brown's package included a £280M boost to tackle 'congestion hot-spots and modernise public transport'. He also said that further allocations from the Capital Modernisation Fund, which he increased by £200M to £2.7bn, would be made 'in due course' and promised that July's Public Spending Review would mean a doubling in capital investment.

But Casebourne said: 'The additional transport funding is totally inadequate given the decrepit state of Britain's road, rail and public transport systems. The comparatively small additional resources promised for transport suggest that the Spending Review will not be as generous with public funds for transport as we would hope and is needed.'

Also controversial was Brown's decision not to raise fuel duty above inflation, therefore depriving the transport sector of additional funding.

He had promised that this slice would be given straight to transport expenditure, particularly to help fund local authorities looking to prepare the way for tolling projects (NCE 6 January). Each percentage rise above inflation would have raised about £230M.

There was also industry dismay over the Government's intention to introduce an aggregates tax from April 2002. The levy will be set at £1.60 per tonne of sand, gravel and crushed rock extracted in the UK or imported into the country. Exports, recycled aggregates or certain secondary aggregates such as those derived from reworking old soil heaps will be exempt. Some of the revenue raised will be ploughed into a Sustainability Fund 'to deliver environmental benefits to communities affected by quarrying'.

Quarry Products Association director general Simon van der Byl said: The tax will have little impact on recycling. It will create substantial additional costs to all forms of construction.'

Brown also announced that the Government was reviewing whether to offer relief from stamp duty on the first sale of homes built on Brownfield land.

There was good news for those affected by the Construction Industry [tax] Scheme with the launch of a package of measures designed to reduce costs.

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