Adonis heads Osborne’s infrastructure body

Lord Adonis has resigned the Labour Party whip and become a cross-bench peer to lead George Osborne’s new body to plan infrastructure projects. The National Infrastructure Commission Adonis now heads is intended to take the politics out of infrastructure decisions in order to create a national consensus on what must be done, initially focusing on the country’s transport system.

Osborne said of the Commission, ‘It will hold any Government’s feet to the fire if it fails to deliver. We’re also sweeping away planning rules on brownfield sites and creating half a dozen British Wealth Funds to invest billions in British infrastructure.

Future favours the bold. So we’ve got to be the builders, the people with the new ideas. The people open to the new thinking. Accept when others have got it right. The people with the plan for the future.’

Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission, but urged the Chancellor not to forget about everyday transport. Head of Campaigns at Campaign for Better Transport, James MacColl, said, ‘We welcome today’s announcement creating a National Infrastructure Commission as a way to coordinate planning and help achieve long-term investment for the big transport infrastructure we will need in the future. However, we would urge the Chancellor not to forget about everyday transport, things like the buses, local road maintenance and local sustainable transport projects which people rely on but which risk being hit by funding cuts in the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review. Everyday transport is vitally important to keeping people and communities connected and must be prioritised over wasting billions on big road building projects that will only worsen congestion and pollution.’

Lord Adonis is a former Labour Secretary of State for Transport, holding the post between 5 June 2009 to 11 May 2010. He recently joined the board of HS2 Ltd as a Non-Executive Director. In February last year, he made a series of bus trips in London and recorded his experiences, posting his findings in The Independent and on his blog, where he described the bus as ‘the poor relation of public transport’.

The move comes at the same time as the Conservative Party has been said in press reports to be trying to appeal to Labour voters. Osborne announced a ‘devolution revolution’ in his recent Conservative Party speech, revealing the Party’s plans to allow local government to keep the rates they collect from business instead of ‘being sent up to Whitehall’. On his Facebook page, he said, ‘Local areas will be able to cut business rates as much as they like to win new jobs.’ He also announced that next spring it will make Lloyds Bank shares available to the public at a discounted price.

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