Speaking on the Nick Ferrari showon LBC this morning Justine Greening for the Conservatives revealed that they could scrap the Crossrail scheme if elected to Government. This is the same scheme, you might remember, that business leaders big and small throughout London have said is vital for London to remain competitive and grow. And that the Conservatives pledged they would see built.
To my knowledge this is the first time the Tories have revealed a lack of support for the scheme, and for West London this would have a particularly severe impact, one of the stations being slated for our neck of the woods at Acton Main Line.
Just as Shaun Bailey quite rightly trumpeted the support he received from 50 small businesses in Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith over his National Insurance campaign, I wonder if he'll be canvassing their opinions on this new development in Tory policy?
Labour has not been slow to react with Transport Secretary Lord Adonis saying:
"The Tories' supposed commitment to Crossrail lasted just two days. Now Justine Greening has exposed the weasel words in the Tory manifesto for what they are.
"This sends an alarming message to business in and around the capital, to Londoners, and also calls into question the extent of their commitment to all other infrastructure projects, including high speed rail.
"Crossrail will deliver thousands of jobs, cut journey times across the capital, and deliver a huge boost to business. Only Labour is fully committed to making this project happen."
The transcript of what Justine Greening said on LBC is here:
NF: I’m sure this is my stupidity. Will it continue or won’t it continue?
JG: I can’t give a guarantee that it will continue.
NF: So it might not, it can go the other way? The Conservatives could scrap Crossrail?
JG: It’s possible but at the end of the day we’ve always said that we think it’s important project and, and actually the reason this is important is we, we want to be responsible so we can’t pretend that we can write an entire budget outside of government. We’ve said we’ll do one within 50 days of getting into government if we get elected and we will then provide some clarity and certainty.
Justine Greening, Nick Ferrari, 15 April 2010
UPDATE 1500 - Liberal Democrat Assembly Transport Spokesperson and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon has released a statement that says:
"The Conservatives are all over the place when it comes to Crossrail.
"The Conservative Mayor of London never tires of boasting about his support for the project and Conservative run Kensington and Chelsea Council are even demanding a further new station which will add to the cost of the project.
"Yet at the same time a London Conservative MP, speaking on behalf of the national party, is simply unable to provide a clear assurance that this much needed project will be completed."