GRANT Shapps announced today a £2billion spending boost to revamp Britain’s roads and railways.
He vowed to strip away the “bind weeds” of bureaucracy which make British infrastructure projects some of the slowest and most expensive in Europe.
Mr Shapps said today: “I can announce nearly £2billion to upgrade our roads and our railways, to put our transport infrastructure in the best possible shape and to get our economy growing.”
The package includes £1.7 billion for local roads to make them smoother and safer – particularly as more Brits get on their bikes and in their cars to avoid overloading public transport and helping spread coronavirus.
Government guidance has told people to avoid public transport as much as they possibly can and Mr Shapps said it was Brits’ “civic duty” to find other ways to travel.
Mr Shapps said: “This investment will help fix damage caused by the winter flooding, repair roads and bridges and fund numerous road improvement schemes.”
The Transport Secretary said Britain needed to harness the spirit of hard work and innovation seen during lockdown for its future infrastructure projects.
While the country has been in lockdown, Network Rail completed 419 projects just over the easter weekend, and 1000 more through the May bank holiday.
The upgrade to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon was finished seven months ahead of schedule.
Over the last two months, there has been more than £700million of upgrades across the nation, Mr Shapps said.
He said: “We somehow managed to do things in weeks that would normally take years, building new hospitals, moving public services online, making instant reforms and fast tracking new laws.”
“If building a new hospital takes just two weeks, why should building new roads still take as long as 20 years?
“If GP surgeries can move online, why do most rail passengers still travel on paper tickets?
“We must exploit our newfound capacity to respond at pace and apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure, we must examine why it is that bureaucratic bind weed makes British infrastructure some of the costliest and slowest in Europe to build.”
Mr Shapps vowed the Conservative’s manifesto of “levelling up” the country would not be forgotten in the midst of a bleak economic outlook because of the national shutdown.
Today, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast UK national debt would hit almost £300 billion by the end of next year because of the cost of coronavirus policies.
Mr Shapps’ promised earlier this week that the UK would not return to a policy of austerity and slashing public funding.