CBI damns transport failings

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The Independent Online
The failure of the Government to draw up a coherent transport policy is damaging British competitiveness, according to a highly critical report by the Confederation of British Industry published yesterday. The report went beyond the frequent criticisms of British under-investment in transport infrastructure by criticising the failure of the Government to create a mechanism through which clear transport priorities could be established.

Howard Davies, director-general of the CBI, criticised the way in which decisions about transport infrastructure were taken in an ad hoc secretive way, whereas our European competitors "were more willing to make financial and long-term commitments to deliver agreed objectives."

He accepted, however, that since Brian Mawhinney took over as Transport Secretary last July, the Department of Transport appeared to be "more open" to new thinking.

Nevertheless, he was very concerned at past failures. He said: "Many business people have lost confidence in the Government's ability to deliver a network which both supports British competitiveness and meets environmental concerns." International businesses were being deterred from investing in Britain because their perception of our transport infrastructure was poor.

He said that last year's government paper on competitiveness had failed to address transport adequately and he hoped for a more comprehensive approach in the forthcoming one.

The CBI is also pressing the Government to publish a Green Paper on transport policy to establish a new set of criteria since its previous policy of relying solely on increased roadbuilding had failed.