Prescott: No Fast Lane out of Chaos; Deputy Premier Promises Transport 'Renaissance', but Admits It Will Be a Long Haul

Daily Mail (London), July 21, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Prescott: No Fast Lane out of Chaos; Deputy Premier Promises Transport 'Renaissance', but Admits It Will Be a Long Haul


Byline: DAVID HUGHES

AN embattled John Prescott yesterday placed his faith in a 'public transport renaissance' to save his political skin.

The Deputy Prime Minister, under fire from all sides for failing to deliver after two years in charge of transport, said he was prepared to risk unpopularity by sticking to his long-term policy.

But the 'jam tomorrow' message will carry little weight with Mr Prescott's army of critics. He is under pressure in the Cabinet for running what one senior Minister yesterday called a 'totally sham-bolic department'.

Tony Blair is planning a cull of some of Mr Prescott's lacklustre junior ministers and intends appointing young modernisers to inject new thinking and energy.

Insiders say Mr Blair would like to move his deputy out of transport but daren't do so because it would trigger a Cabinet crisis.

And transport lobby groups say they feel betrayed by the Government's snail's pace progress in tackling the crucial issue.

They are demanding a greater sense of urgency from the giant Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions which Mr Prescott runs.

To their dismay yesterday, he warned that he has no swift answers to Britain's transport

chaos. His grim message was that it is going to be a long haul before any impact is made on congested roads, overcrowded trains, and a London Underground system that has turned into a national scandal.

But he was holding up the prospect of a rosy future for the travelling public, eventually.

'There is a public transport renaissance on the way which will be better for this country, better for the motorist and better for the environment,' Mr Prescott claimed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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