Tories back Crossrail and pledge to help smaller firms

Aaron Morby 14 years ago

The Tory manifesto launched today has pledged to support Crossrail and build a high speed rail network in Britain.

Among a raft of other measures designed to support small businesses, it promised to give smaller contractors and suppliers a bigger slice of Government work if it wins the next election.

Launching the Conservative manifesto today, David Cameron said he planned to give more power to people and business. That will include a greater say in the local planning process.

Cameron also vowed to block the bulk of Labour’s planned 1% rise in national insurance and save more than 50,000 jobs in the UK.

The Tories top priority is to eliminate the bulk of the country’s massive deficit over a parliament. But the £15bn Crossrail project in London, which contractors feared would be a chief victim of cost-cutting, was spared the axe. The electrification of the Great Western Line to Wales will also proceed under a Tory Government.

The manifesto underscored plans to  block a third runway at Heathrow and second runways at Stanstead and Gatwick.

Cameron said he wanted the public to have a greater say in the planning process and upheld an earlier promise to replace the newly-formed Infrastructure Planning Commission with a democratically accountable fast-track planning process for major projects.

In the longer term, the rail industry stands to be the biggest winner under a Tory Government.

The manifesto said that on taking office the Tories would immediately initiate the long process of building a modern rail network to open up airport capacity across the country.

“A Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.”

“This is the first step towards achieving our vision of creating a national high speed rail network to ensure the whole country shares in rising prosperity.”

Stage two will deliver two new lines giving the North East, Scotland and Wales high speed connections.

There is a raft of fresh measures for small and medium sized-contractors.

These include cuts in corporation tax and an employers national insurance holiday on the first 10 staff employed by a small business.

The Tories have pledged that 25% of Government contracts will be awarded to SMEs by cutting the administrative costs of bidding. All government work worth over £10,000 will be published online.

A future Conservative Government will promote low carbon technologies and deliver a Green Deal of £6,500 worth of energy saving measures to householders.

There are plans to raise the profile of engineering with a new national prize and follow through on the Pitt Review recommendations for better flood defences.

On the housing side the Tories will permanently raise the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers. More controversially, they would abolish regional planning, including the regional spatial strategies and building targets.

Also developers would have to pay a fee to local authorities to compensate the community for loss of amenity and the cost of additional infrastructure.

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