UK Politics

UK suffering 'infrastructure drift' says Labour report

  • 5 September 2013
  • From the section UK Politics
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Crossrail construction site in East London
There was "little evidence" that governments were planning properly for the future, Sir John said

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.

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."

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