UK suffering 'infrastructure drift' says Labour report

Crossrail construction site in East London There was "little evidence" that governments were planning properly for the future, Sir John said

Related Stories

An independent commission should be set up "to end decades of drift and delay on major infrastructure decisions", a Labour-commissioned report has said.

Successive governments have failed to set strategic priorities, the report from Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt found.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls urged the government to implement the report as quickly as possible.

But Treasury minister David Gauke said Labour had scored a "massive own goal".

Major infrastructure projects "are often controversial and politicians are rarely in office long enough to see the electoral dividends of major investment programmes", the report said.

'Victorian pioneers'

Problems surrounding the planning and implementing of schemes had affected energy policy, airport capacity, road and rail schemes and water projects, it added.

Start Quote

The Olympics showed what can be done when there is cross-party consensus and a sense of national purpose”

End Quote Ed Balls Shadow chancellor

The report went on: "The Office for National Statistics, for example, forecasts UK population will grow to over 73 million people by 2035.

"However, there is little evidence that governments are planning for the infrastructure we will need by then to support another 10 million people."

It called for the creation of an independent National Infrastructure Commission, appointed by government and opposition parties, to identify the UK's long-term infrastructure needs and monitor the plans developed by governments to meet them.

Sir John said: "We have the Victorian pioneers to thank for the infrastructure that has underpinned the quality of life for our generation.

"It is up to us to lay the ground for the next pioneers who will create the innovative systems and services that will serve future generations."

Mr Balls added: "This excellent report sets out a clear blueprint for how we can better identify, plan and deliver our infrastructure needs.

"The Olympics showed what can be done when there is cross-party consensus and a sense of national purpose.

"Now we need that same drive and spirit to plan ahead for the next 30 years and the needs of future generations."

But Treasury minister David Gauke said: "This is a massive own goal from Ed Balls."

The report was "an epitaph to Labour's failure over 13 years to address the infrastructure challenges Britain faces", he argued.

Mr Gauke concluded: "This government is clearing up the mess, creating an economy for hardworking people by investing in the biggest programme of infrastructure development since the Victorian era."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    So what's new, politicians all know they have a limited sell by date so make no plans that will bring benefits in 5-10 years time let alone 20+ as they don't want the other party to get the benefit of their preparations. All political parties do is to look back at previous administrations and point out what they did wrong, never what they did right and so never seem to learn anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Agree with many here about taking these decisions out of the MP's hands. They only choose a project that will suit their ideology.

    A committee made of businesses, academics, engineers AND the public to discuss and promote future needs should be implemented.

    Oh and someone who can actually add up the costs of a project because politicians don't seem to be able too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    When admiring French or Spanish infrastructure builds and public works it's worth remembering one point.

    The are able to push these projects through because they have (compared to us) draconian compulsory purchase laws. You are paid a fixed amount and told to leave!

    We have decades of public inquiries, appeals and strident media campaigns which means that we get nowhere and lawyers get rich!

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    The way politics is now it's mainly about 'today' and trying to win the next election. Politicians have to realise that they are public servants who are elected to make and take decisions on behalf of the electorate which are in the best long-term interest of the country, not their political careers. The delays over London's future airport capacity being a prime example

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    An independent group seems like a good idea. All agree infrastructure needs uplifting or replacing, else we cannot cater for growth. Required are; accountability, budgetary constraint, visibility, late delivery penalties, no obscene pay-offs, real life experience & common sense. So politicians need not apply.


More UK Politics stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ReadingBest books

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten books you should read in February


  • A car being driven by Cruise Automation technologyClick Watch

    The tech which could allow any car with an automatic gearbox to become self-driving

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.