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Ministerial row delays transport reviews

A ROW between Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Chancellor Gordon Brown has forced the government's planned overhaul of transport policy to be put back to the summer, it emerged this week.

Ministers had intended that the Integrated Transport White Paper and the Roads Review would be published together in the spring. But a source close to the review claimed on Monday that a dispute over the amount of money to be allocated to transport had forced the White Paper back to June and the Roads Review back to July.

'There is a ding-dong going on between Brown and Prescott over the government's comprehensive spending review which will need to be sorted out before the White Paper is published,' said the source.

The spending review, which is due to be completed in July, is vital as it sets out the government's spending plans for the rest of the Parliament. The source claimed that pressure on funds will mean further large cuts in the roads programme.

'Politically, the government can't deliver the funding. Maintenance budgets will have to be increased and it will have to find money to build one or two glossy transport schemes,' he said.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions denied the White Paper and Roads Review would be late. 'The Roads Review will follow the White Paper which is coming out in the spring, possibly May,' he said.

Matthew Jones

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