Labour was accused of tearing up its pledges to reduce road traffic yesterday after it announced plans to widen some of Britain's busiest motorways as part of a£5.5bn transport programme (see http://www.lgcnet.com/pages/news/article.asp?ArticleID=307371. Writing in The Independent(p2), Gwyneth Dunwoody, Labour chairman of the commons transport select committee, accused ministers of a 'muddled' approach to road and rail policy, arguing road widening 'will not solve the congestion problem'. She said: 'If this government is serious, as it claims, about getting people out of their cars and on to public transport, why is it presiding over yearly rises in the cost of public transport? Widening our motorways, whether it makes them safer or not, does not solve this problem.' Pressure group Transport 2000 and environmentalists Friends of the Earth also attacked the plans.
On the eve of its league table publication tomorrow , the Audit Commission is itself in the throes of major reorganisation, which will shortly see the departure of its chief official. Adverts will be placed next month for a replacement for Andrew Foster, controller of the commission for the past 10 years, who earns£158,000 a year. It is likely the commission's censure of certain councils could lead to their chief officials leaving, reports The Guardian(p12).
FIRE DISPUTE: TALKS CONTINUE AHEAD OF NEW STRIKE
Hopes of averting another strike by firefighters remained in the balance last night after union leaders met to review the deadlocked pay dispute, reports The Independent(p2). Leaders of the Fire Brigades Union made no decision on whether an eight-day-long walkout from next Monday would go ahead. The executive will meet again today and possibly tomorrow. The union is waiting to hear whether it will be holding further talks at the conciliation service ACAS.
-- The Audit Commission's list of the best and worst local authorities is to be published tomorrow. 'But councillors are unlikely to take much notice,' reports The Guardian(p19).
-- 'Workplace stress blamed as staff sick days almost double' to 33 million, reports the Financial Times(p1) on the HSE's announcements yesterday (see WORKPLACE SAFETY, WORKPLACE DEATHS AND EXPLOSION RISKSon LGCnet).
-- The Guardian (G2, p4) profiles former catwalk model turned 'business troubleshooter', Nikki Page, who wants to be Tory mayor of London.
by assistant editor Neil Watson