Constituencies of coalition MPs receive majority of funding for railway station improvements, claim Labour

With less than three weeks to go before the local and European elections, there are accusations of favouritism over Government spending
Click to follow
Indy Politics

Ministers have been accused of funnelling taxpayers' money into Conservative and Liberal Democrat constituencies ahead of this month's local elections, intended to improve access to railway stations.

Last week the Department for Transport announced that it was spending £100m over the next four years on lifts and other measures for the disabled at stations. "Access for All" funding has been slashed under the coalition, to the outrage of charities.

But analysis of how the reduced spending pot has been allocated reveals that nearly two thirds of constituencies which will see improved rail access are held by Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs, many of them in marginal seats. Of the 42 constituencies receiving the money, 26, or 61 per cent, are coalition-held, while 15 are Labour and one SNP.

Labour's transport spokeswoman, Mary Creagh, said: "Cabinet ministers such as Jeremy Hunt, Philip Hammond and William Hague will be delighted at more money for their local stations, while Tory MPs in marginal constituencies will be hoping this investment will save their seats.

"David Cameron's out-of-touch Tories have slashed this funding, from £43m a year to just £25m a year. How can people with disabilities have any trust that the Government is on their side?"

With less than three weeks to go until the local and European elections, Ukip has continued to surge in the polls. Yesterday Nigel Farage, Ukip's leader, was faced with more revelations about the questionable views of his party's candidates. Harry Perry, a council candidate in Stockport, said on Twitter that Pakistan should be "nuked" and that the Prime Minister was a "gay-loving nutcase".

Unveiling a Ukip billboard campaign on the cliffs at Dover, Mr Farage said: "I've never heard of the bloke until last night. I've no idea who he is … Clearly his attitude and views are entirely inconsistent with being a member of Ukip. Simple. Yeah, we've got some idiots.

"What is happening here is the Establishment is singling out a handful of unpleasant comments made by Ukip people and yet the other parties do these things and say these things it would appear with impunity."

Mr Farage also defended the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson over the row involving his alleged use of the N-word. The Ukip leader said: "The more controversial Jeremy Clarkson is, the more people watch his programme, and the more money the BBC makes out of marketing a show that sells globally and makes them a fortune. I would think it's just typical Clarkson, getting very, very close to the line of being offensive but perhaps not quite going over it."

This week the cross-party campaign against Ukip, organised by the Migration Matters Trust, will launch posters accusing the party of racism. Last month Mr Farage wrote: "I've signed the petition – you should too! Remember it'll be the Albanians next."

The new Migration Matters posters say if "Romanian" was replaced with "Indian", and "Albanians" with "Jamaicans" there would be an outcry. Barbara Roche, the co-chairman of Migration Matters, said: "People need to ask themselves a simple question: if prejudice against a family from Asia or Africa is unacceptable, why is it acceptable when directed against a family from eastern Europe?"