The transport that leaves Scotland behind

12 Apr 01
Transport funding in Scotland is lagging way behind that of England and is producing a two-tier system, according to the chairman of the government's Commission for Integrated Transport.

13 April 2001

Professor David Begg told delegates at the CIPFA Scotland conference that the amount of money being spent on transport in England was 'absolutely unbelievable'. But, in Scotland, it was much less of a priority.

'I didn't expect that devolved power in Scotland would lead to this gap opening up between transport spend north and south of the border,' he said. 'I didn't expect that we would lag behind this public transport revolution which is taking place in England.'

Begg said that Leeds, Bristol and Portsmouth had received grants totalling £800m in recent months to set up light rapid transit systems.

No such funding was available in Scotland, and the Executive had shied away from introducing congestion charging and workplace parking levies.

He said that levies were under consideration by 18 councils in England. But Scottish councils and the Executive were often wary of a negative reaction from the media. 'I voted for a Scottish Parliament because I thought we were going to be more radical, more visionary and more statesmanlike. If anything it is the opposite. We have become very insular.'

He suggested that the tide in Scotland was turning away from congestion charging and on to road expansion. Politicians had failed to explain how this would be funded or justify the effects on the environment.

'You can't always be guided by focus groups and letters pages in the local papers. At some point you have got to stand up and say: "This is bad for our country – we just can't do this".'


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