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Under-achiever Prescott rapped by ICE

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER John Prescott is criticised for his track record on transport issues by the ICE in its latest Government Affairs Newsletter.

The newsletter, sent out to selected MPs and construction industry organisations, claims that annual transport spending has decreased 16% from £4.775bn to £3.891bn since Labour came to power.

It states: 'Last year's Transport White Paper raised expectations of rapid change and improvements in quality. These have not so far materialised, and in some cases quality has deteriorated. Although the Deputy Prime Minister has been transport supremo for almost two-and-a-half years there is a perception that little has been achieved. This is correct. This will have to change because now key decisions are needed and the public are demanding action.'

The newsletter also says: 'Time is running out for the Government's complicated and unsatisfactory plans for the modernisation of London Underground.'

It adds: 'By default, the architect of these plans is HM Treasury which has not allowed the Underground to issue government-guaranteed bonds to finance the £7bn cost of the works - although a precedent exists in the case of the financing of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A complicated public- private halfway house provides the tortuous way ahead. A simpler solution to the challenge of London Underground is required.'

The newsletter is available from ICE political affairs manager Owen Simon on (0171) 665 2157.

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