Engineers in plea for roads spending

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Civil engineers yesterday called on the Chancellor not to make further cuts in road spending in next month's Budget. The recovery was already faltering, the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors said.

John Hackett, FCEC director-general, said: 'It was only a year ago that we saw the first real improvement in the level of invitations to tender for civil engineering work. Now we're looking at a levelling of activity and a downturn in job prospects.'

Mr Hackett also called for the restoration of cuts in the Transport Supplementary Grant, which gives money for local roads. He was backed up by the Confederation of British Industry, which warned that cutbacks in transport infrastructure spending would damage growth prospects.

The engineers' message flew in the face of a call earlier this week by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for a massive shift of spending away from roads towards public transport.

The FCEC survey of 128 firms pointed to lower invitations to tender than a year ago. Order books have fallen, most firms expect the trend to continue and most expect to continue cutting staff over the next 12 months.