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The first 100 days: priorities for government

The general election followed by a cabinet reshuffle opens up new opportunities for revamping the UK's infrastructure. Antony Oliver assesses the new government's priorities over its first 100 days of office.

Last week's second Labour landslide election victory gives prime minister Tony Blair the mandate to settle down and get on with delivering his promises.

And after the last four years of government most would agree that there have been many.

No more so than in infrastructure improvements. While big hitting deputy prime minister John Prescott was seen as a great candidate to ratchet transport and infrastructure higher up the political agenda, the reality saw his super-ministry often hamstrung by its own scale.

His often highly capable deputies produced a string of good ideas, reports and consultations but it sees were never really given the clout needed to deliver the policies.

The appointment this week of Stephen Byers to look after transport and Margaret Beckett to handle the environment is perhaps an acceptance that these important areas of government policy need effective champions. Neither are what you might describe as rising stars of government or particularly close to the ear of power so it remains to be seen how much of a voice they will command around the table.

But the break up of the superministry, while no doubt set to cause some short-term bureaucratic problems, should in the long run reap reward. For if nothing else it will give some focus to what each of the ministers is trying to do. And hopefully that will centre on improving and sustaining the UK's infrastructure.

Over the page is the latest NCE/ICE State of the Nation report card which once again takes a snapshot of the nation's infrastructure. This, along with the actions needed in each sector will once again be a vital tool for decision makers to gauge what actions needs to be taken across each sector of the infrastructure.

With this tool and after four years of consulting, there should now be no doubt about what needs to be done in the UK. But over the next term of government, what comes first?

Using the report card conclusions as a guide and bearing in mind the government's stated priorities, here we set out the goals to be achieved by this new administration over its first 100 days in office.

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