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Labour's experiment in 'joined up government' ended last week when transport reverted to a stand alone department for the first time in five years.

Local government and regional affairs have been hived off to a new department under John Prescott called Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Break up of the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions follows the shift of the environment brief to the Department of Food & Rural Affairs a year ago.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has joined from the Department of Work & Pensions where he was minister. His permanent secretary Rachel Lomax has moved with him to replace Sir Richard Mottram at transport. John Spellar remains as junior transport minister but will no longer attend Cabinet.

Transport industry sources s'd giving a secretary of state sole responsibility for transport was 'long overdue'. It is hoped that Darling will have time to get out and meet the main players in the civil engineering industry and hear their concerns. His predecessors did not, they added.

Since taking over last week Darling is already reported to have put back publication of the government's review of the 10 year transport plan from July to the autumn. The government's regional airport studies expected to be published this month will also be delayed.

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