Baird pressed the First Minister to explain why funding to the road haulage industry appeared in the new budget under a heading of ‘other public transport’. McConnell failed to answer the simple question on whether he agreed that this was not an example of public transport – and appeared to be claim that spending on road haulage industry could be classified as public transport spending.
In the budget papers provided for scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament, various non-public transport initiatives appeared in the public transport column – including spending on utility roadworks and road safety. Greens contend that the Executive commitment to spend 70% of its transport budget on public transport is now in doubt and open to serious question.
Shiona Baird said: “One of my ambitions as the new Co-convener is to cut through the spin and get some straight talking from the First Minister. On this issue it seems clear to me that the figures and the presentation on transport are designed to make us believe that the Executive is serious about tackling congestion, air pollution and climate change by living up to its Partnership Agreement commitment on public transport spending. From Jack McConnell’s reply, he’ll be telling us next that the M74 extension is another example of public transport. I fear that public trust will erode further as long as the First Minister allows these figures to be engineered like this.”
Chris Ballance MSP, Green Speaker on Transport said: “Just this week we see traffic levels growing yet again. We see climate change regularly devastating countries around the world and flooding out Scottish homes. It’s time to tackle the growth of traffic head on – not make it worse. Going for a ‘spin’ obviously has a double meaning when it comes to transport spending.”
For more information contact 0790 99 33 074 or 0131 348 6360.
Notes to editors.
(1) Shiona Baird asked the First Minister to explain why, in the draft Budget document 2005-2006, page 119, The Road Haulage modernisation fund is included as spending on public transport. She asked the First Minister how the Executive could justify spending on the private road haulage sector as public transport.
Contact: George Baxter
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Scottish Green MSPs
Edinburgh EH99 1SP>br>Tel: 0131 348 6376
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Fax: 0131 348 5972