Tory conference: Cash announced for regional road plans

Patrick McLoughlin Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin reminded delegates of his mining past

The new transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told the Conservative Party conference the government plans to improve 57 problem points on roads in England.

He said the government would spend £170m on the works.

But addressing the hall was "a little daunting", he said.

His last appearance was in 1984 when Mr McLoughlin - a former miner - told delegates he would continue working despite being called a "Tory scab".

Trying to reclaim the one nation label used by Labour leader Ed Miliband in his conference speech last week, the transport secretary said: "I'm the son of a miner and the grandson of a miner."

"I want to make one point clear. If you want to understand one nation, Mr Miliband, I'll show you one nation. He is standing at this podium. I am a one nation Tory."

'Madness'

Announcing funding to fix "pinchpoints" on England's roads, Mr McLoughlin said: "Let's face it, we've under-invested as a country for years.

"There's too much congestion, not enough new schemes. It's madness and we are going to sort it out."

He also insisted the government would press ahead with their plans for a high speed rail link between London Birmingham.

The proposals have met with opposition from within the Conservative Party.

One former cabinet minister has described the planned line as "terrible".

But the transport secretary said today: "We can't afford not to build it. Our competitors around the world are investing in the best transport and we must too."

He promised that those whose homes and communities are effected by the new line will be properly compensated.

And he said the government wants to reduce journey times from London to Scotland to under three hours.

The funding for road improvements is intended to remove bottlenecks and boost the economy by improving access to local enterprise zones.

They include work on the M1, M62 and M5 motorways as well as the A1 and A404.

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