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Regional MPs have failed SW on railways, say South West Greens

South West Green Party has accused MPs of the three main Westminster Parties for allowing investment in the region's railways to fall so massively behind London and the South East. Figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research reveal that the South West received just £19 per head in spending on transport compared with £2731 in London and £792 per head in the South-East [1]. The Green Party has also repeated its demand for HS2 to be cancelled and a proportion of the £50bn price-tag to be spent on investment in the resilience of regional railways in the South West.

Speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics show in the South West on Sunday [2], lead European candidate Molly Scott Cato put her accusation to Devon West MP Gary Streeter and Exeter's Ben Bradshaw. She said:

"The Green Party has always opposed HS2 which we see as a vanity project and we’ve said that money should be invested in regional railways instead. People are asking how it is that these MPs who have been representing this region for so many years have not brought that investment forward. A hundred times more is spent on transport in the capital than in the South West and people here are saying they haven’t been looked after properly."

Dr Scott Cato expressed skepticism at the sudden apparent availability of funds for the region’s railways.

"Suddenly, now there’s a crisis, we hear from local MPs that there is money available having been told repeatedly there isn’t any money. I am not impressed at this idea of waiting for a crisis before we act. What we know about climate change is that there will be more unpredictability and more crises. If we weren’t spending money on HS2 there would be plenty of money for opening up a series of regional railway lines and that would be better for the quality of life for people in the South West and a boost for the regional economy, particularly for tourism."

Dr Scott Cato visited Dawlish on Friday while Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin was examining the storm damaged railway. Given the skepticism of Environment Secretary Own Paterson on climate change, she sought to ask Mr McLoughlin if he thought this was an example of the impacts of climate change. However, like other people, she was prevented from questioning him personally.

During the Sunday politics show Ms Scott Cato said:

"We have lost confidence in the Environment Secretary. How can someone who doesn’t think climate change is actually happening manage this kind of issue, and I’m afraid his skepticism seems to go right across government."

South West Greens last week called on David Cameron to sack Owen Paterson, accusing him of gross incompetence [3]


[1] Transport spending 'skewed towards London' BBC news 18 December 2011:

[2] 46.38 into programme


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