Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Road problems? You should have voted for the regional assembly

Oh Mr. Prescott, what contempt you have for democracy. The crash when you fall will be a mighty one...

Deputy PMs jibe provokes fury
The Journal
Saturday, November 19, 2005
by Guy Basnett

Deputy Prime Minister John Precott laughed off the North-East's road problems yesterday, quipping: "You should have voted for a regional assembly."

Speaking at a lavish corporate champagne opening, he joked with onlookers that the region needed a water bus - "to avoid the congestion on your roads".

He then scoffed: "Perhaps if you had an elected regional assembly you might have done better."

The comments provoked fury from business leaders who estimate a freeze on developments by the Highways Agency has cost the region 10,000 jobs.

The North-East Chamber of Commerce also believes it has lost the region £1bn.

Chamber chief executive George Cowcher said: "It's a very serious problem and a very serious issue. It's worrying when ministers treat it lightly."

Hexham Conservative MP Peter Atkinson said: "It's usual foot-in-mouth stuff from Prescott. He should think about what he's saying before he opens his mouth."

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