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Roads programme starts likely to be cut to eight

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THE HIGHWAYS Agency this week admitted that it is expecting its road building programme to be cut as part of Chancellor Gordon Brown's summer comprehensive spending review.

In a presentation to consultants and contractors, Agency major projects divisional director David Ward revealed that it expects just eight schemes to start on site in the 2004/05 financial year.

This figure compares with 13 schemes - a combined value of £334M - scheduled to get under way in the latest version of its Targeted Programme of Improvements.

The Agency would not confirm which schemes it expected to be delayed or shelved, pointing out that this was a decision for government.

'It is public knowledge that there is a spending review going on across government, ' said an Agency source. 'It is no surprise that we have made a submission. We haven't been told the results of that, but we have anticipated that eight schemes will start in 2004/05.'

Further details may be made available when the Agency publishes its business plan for 2004/05, due next month. This plan will also reveal that 13 early contractor involvement schemes are expected to be let, with tenders invited for a further nine schemes.

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