General Election 2015: Green Party pledge to axe road building programme which includes A1

£15 billion road improvement scheme will be axed to focus on public transport instead, Green manifesto says

Nick Ansell/PA Wire Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

The Green Party has vowed to axe the Government’s road-building programme - which includes the long-awaited upgrade to the A1 north of Newcastle.

Funding would instead be spent on providing more local rail services, dramatically improving bus services and encouraging walking and cycling.

A pledge to axe a £15 billion road programme was included in the party’s general election manifesto.

The five-year programme, announced in December last year by the Coalition, included £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, 25 miles from the Scottish border.

While the manifesto does not name specific schemes to be eliminate, it appears to confirm that the entire programme will be axed.

It says: “We would end the wasteful and destructive national major roads programme, saving £15 billion over the Parliament.

“Spend part of this £15 billion on improving and subsidising public transport, with an average fare reduction of 10% costing £8 billion over the Parliament, fixing potholdes in existing roads and investing in walking and cycling.”

Tom Stewart, of Berwick Green Party, said there was scepticism about whether the dualling would go ahead whoever won the election.

He said: “The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have used the campaign to dual the A1 as a political football and there is every likelihood it will be dropped after the election anyway.”

He pointed out that a Department for Transport study suggested the improved road would largely provide more capacity for freight traffic rather than passenger vehicles.

The Green Party called for a “peaceful political revolution” to end austerity and tackle climate change, as they launched their manifesto.

As well as measures to fight global warming, they promised to end Government spending cuts, reverse “creeping privatisation” of the NHS and create one million well-paid public sector jobs.

Steve Parsons/PA Wire Green Party leader Natalie Bennett during the launch of the Green Party billboard campaign in Brighton
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett during the launch of the Green Party billboard campaign in Brighton

Greens have been enjoying a surge in popularity, with membership soaring to almost 60,000 in England and Wales and the party challenging Liberal Democrats for fourth place in some national polls.

They are hoping to retain their single parliamentary seat in Brighton Pavilion and to snatch others in strongholds like Norwich and Bristol.

The manifesto contained commitments to:

* Provide 500,000 new homes by 2020 with councils freed up to borrow to build, end Right to Buy, increasing the social housing budget by £4.5 billion a year by abolishing “landlord perks” such as mortgage interest relief.

* Scrap university tuition fees and cancel £30 billion of student debt.

* Strip private schools of charitable status, cut class sizes to 20 pupils, end public funding of schools run by religious organisations, bring academies and free schools under local authority control, and provide free nutritious lunches with children involved in growing, preparing and cooking food.

* Extend VAT to cover more sugary and unhealthy foods to subsidise healthy fruit and veg, treat drugs as a health issue with responsibility for policy transferring to the Department of Health.

* Provide a Citizen’s Pension worth £180 a week to all single pensioners or £310 for a couple.

* Introduce a 60% top rate of income tax.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “At the heart of this manifesto is a vision of a fair economy.

“That fair economy demands the end to austerity. It demands we restore and enhance the essential public services we all but particularly the most vulnerable.

“That restoration of the public realm combined with investment in renewable energy and energy conservation, that can create one million quality, stable jobs.

“Rebuilding our public sector, 400,000 of those jobs are in the NHS and social care.

“That fair economy is paid for by the rebalancing that we so desperately need, to see multinational companies and rich individuals paying their fair share in taxes as they are simply not paying now.”

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