Thumbs up for Tube plan and £1bn roadworks

Marion Dakers
THE GOVERNMENT’S ambitious plans to boost the economy through large infrastructure projects got a shot in the arm yesterday, as the chancellor pledged more than £5bn in new funding.

The regeneration of Battersea was one of the focal points, with George Osborne revealing that the state will backstop a £1bn loan to extend the Northern Line to SW8.

The chancellor also pledged £1bn to improving UK roads, including work on junction 30 on the M25 from 2015.

Around £378m of new funding was announced for upgrading the A1, which links London to Newcastle, and the A30 in the south west of England will be made into a dual carriageway.

But Osborne made no mention of the Northern Hub, a much-trumpeted rail scheme unveiled in last year’s National Infrastructure Plan.

Business and economic groups applauded the plans, though some raised concerns that much of the spending has not been set in stone.

“The danger, as with the £5bn capital boost announced this time last year, is that this will fail to materialise and breed further skepticism,” said Nick Baveystock at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG, said the £5bn injection is a “drop in the ocean” compared to a sharp slump in private infrastructure spending in the past year.

Former Locog boss Paul Deighton will produce a review of Whitehall’s ability to deliver the plans.