04/03/2012 Sunday Politics East


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Coming up, June demands for more government cash to ease road


congestion. And the folly of the development. Why the citizens of


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1782 seconds


Southend have that it had plans for Hello, I'm Etholle George. Coming


Plans for an international airport in the Thames Estuary. A crackpot


idea from London Mayor Boris Johnson or a visionary scheme to


safeguard the future of British aviation? Shortly, we will be


finding out the views of this week's guests, Robert Halfon, the


Conservative MP for Harlow and Gavin Shuker, Labour's MP for Luton


South but we'll start with a brief word about fuel duty.


Now, there have been questions this week as to whether the Chancellor


will put prices up in his Budget later this month. Fuel protesters


went to Downing Street this week to try to persuade the Government to


scrap a planned three pence a litre rise. Robert Halfon, record prices,


price rises in petrol. I know you're a seasoned campaigner


against price rises, but the Chancellor is going ahead with it


this time, isn't he? Yes, we will have to wait and see. It is the


number one issue facing our country. In my constituency, it is costing a


10th of the average motorist their income, the amount of money they're


paying on petrol prices every year. I was glad the Government cut fuel


duty last year and did not go ahead with the January increase. We're


urging the Government to postpone the August increase and also to cut


fuel tax as soon as financial conditions allow. Let us talk about


the Labour position on this. I understand that Labour was keen on


this fuel price escalator which automatically increases prices


ahead of inflation, sold as a green benefit, but actually just another


tax on the motorist. I think if the economy were growing, we would be


in a different place, but we actually accept that the best way


you can get growth in the economy and reduce fuel cost is VAT. That


is adding �2 or �3 on to the average fill-up at the tanks and


that is actually a really important thing that we could do right now


and George Osborne should do. is a fuel protest planned on


Wednesday, but this has not gained the momentum of last year. Well, it


has and there are still thousands of people that have signed the


petition. The problem with a VAT cut is that not only does it cost


�12 billion and would increase our mortgages because it would increase


borrowing, but businesses do not pay VAT, so they would not benefit


from any reduction. Thank you very much. Now, staying with frustrated


motorists, here in the East, road improvements are always near the


top of the agenda. This week, ministers have agreed to sit down


with MPs to discuss how to upgrade the A47 from Great Yarmouth to


Peterborough. Delegates at a special summit in Northamptonshire


put pressure on the Government to find the cash to pay for promised


improvements to the A14. Business, politicians and motorists all agree


that delays to developments on improving this important road will


damage the region's economy. Here is Andrew Sinclair.


It is one of the busiest roads in the region. Used by 100,000


vehicles a day. One in four jobs in Northamptonshire depends upon it,


which is why there is such a clamour for things to be done


quickly. We, frankly, are less concerned about the actual solution


than the fact that we desperately need extra capacity as soon as


possible. The Government has pledged �218 million to junction


improvements and widening sections of the road. It has launched a


consultation on a toll road in Cambridgeshire. But many at the


summit said that was not enough. They want new carriageway all along


this route. I think they're probably hoping for far more than


they are ever going to get. They want a three-lane motorway instead


of a two-lane dual-carriageway A- road and whilst that is going to


happen in sections, possibly, there is just not the money to do that


from Felixstowe, to join it up to the M6. And then there is the


question of funding. Public money is highly unlikely. A PFI deal


could be possible. There might also be European funding. This is after


all a European highway. But some say building new lanes is not the


answer to the A14's problems. think what we need to do is get the


heavy goods vehicles off that road. When they are there, when they


start passing each other, blocking up the road, that causes problems


and it is them who are predominantly involved in accidents.


I would like to see more work to get those off the road and on to


the railways. We can do much more work to expand the railways, get


those off and then the road will flow much better. Both business and


the Government want a solution. But whatever option is chosen, it is


going to take time. Gavin Shuker, what about the idea,


then, of a new toll road? That is one way to improve our road. It is


clear it is the only way that the Government will be willing to put


money and investment into this vital route, the A14. I think that


is probably the wrong choice, though. I would say that right now


what we need to get their economy moving and businesses able to get


their goods to market is a proper expansion of the A14. The first


thing this coalition government did in transport when they came in was


to scrap plans for the A14 and two years later, we still have no


solution. Robert Halfon, if we have a toll road, the already hard-


pressed motorist will just have to pay even more money to go about


their daily business. It is good news that the Government are


investing 130 million in this new road, but it was impossible to,


given the economic situation we are in, to fully fund the �1 billion


roughly that it would cost, so we have to look at alternative methods.


The toll road works very well for the M6 in the North of England and


I think we should go further and faster in looking at toll roads


because, if we want these roads, we have to fund them somehow. Money


does not grow on trees. We're facing a very difficult economic


time. But how can people afford to utilise a road like that? It is an


expensive way to go. It is, but at least people have the option. The


M6 toll road has been incredibly successful. Gavin Shuker, don't you


feel that we're being very stuck in the mud about continuing with the


amount of traffic on our roads? What about this idea that was


mooted at the end of that film about simply getting the freight


off? It is great. And across the East of England, we know we need


further and greater investment in public transport as well as road


transport as well. The key thing on the M6 toll road is that you have a


choice. For many people living across the East Anglia, the A14 is


not another choice that they can choose to access, it is their only


route and they suffer really badly from delays. This is why the


Government are investing 130 million. But we have to recognise


that money does not grow on trees and we have to make a judgement


about where money is spent. In my own area, we're looking for an


extra junction. That is going to cost �50 million. I know that


you're a Euro-sceptic, but Europe could be the saviour of all these


problems. Of course, if money is available for the scheme, all well


and good and I would support the Government doing everything it can


to get European funding, but let us wait and see to see if they are


ready and waiting to give us the money. Let me give you an example


from my own constituency, this government have been good in


improving a junction there, that means that we can move more and the


new businesses to Luton and they can get their goods to market. It


helps everyone. I do not accept the argument that there is no money for


improvements. The Chancellor does not be there. we to get you across


the whole of the Regent that he had put the money where you could get


We know that for every paid to that end, you get three or �4 out of


these major improvement projects. We need to have a long-term vision


on it. A want to talk about another form of transport dive. Let us look


at the new plans for an airport in the Thames estuary. The mayor of


London has championed the idea, but that first minister has poured cold


water on it. Now the plan and are some were more expensive scheme


have gone from PY and the sky to being under consideration. This


week, councillors in Southend came out overwhelmingly against the


plans, describing them as a folly of a development, which would


prompt an extremely damaging change of life for people in the borough.


So, well and estuary airport ever take-off?


The Thames estuary, where a battle is being fought over nothing less


than the future a deviation. The UK has a problem. Heathrow was there


only hub airport, and you put that flies a long haul to world call --


worldwide destination. It is at full stretch and their coalition


has ruled out building another runway. Some say the answer is to


forget Heathrow and build a new hub airport some were out there, in the


Thames estuary, off at Southend. Talk of an estuary airport was back


to the 1950s. Now the mayor of London has resurrected the idea.


The problem with Heathrow is that it is a great the airport, but he


cannot indefinitely expand that because it is in the wrong place.


Boris Johnson's vision is an island airport. Other plants have been


unveiled for the Thames Cup, directly opposite said then. This


is what it could look like. Supporters say that if we cannot


have more fights, our economic future is bleak. A London and the


Saudis could end up at the end of a branch line. He will want to come


here? If they do not have access to regular flights to major


destinations? As the plants came a momentum, so does opposition to


them in his set end. This would not be an estuary town, looking out to


the open sea. It would become an industrial environment. A we have


all sorts of wildlife on either side of the Thames and whether it


be either project's idea, I think neither are appropriate. But not


everyone agrees. This was Southend airport in the 1950s, now it is a


thriving again. This new terminal officially opened on Monday. The


managing director says an estuary airport is worth considering, for


economic regions. If we're going to trade with that the Far East and so


on, we need to work out how we're going to get there. It is important


for the nation to work this out. One Suffolk MP supports the idea.


come in favour of a new airport, which will actually have by product


of being great for the economy of East Anglia. But the estuary is


rich with wildlife. The RSPB is horrified by the idea as is this


man. He started a protest group. would be 12 times more dangerous to


fly from an estuary airport and any other airport in the UK. That is


just madness. It is peaceful around here. It there always has been. It


will be a massive difference. It will have a massive impact if it


goes ahead. There is no doubt it that it would damage the estuary.


Supporters say that without it, the UK economy will stagnate.


Joining us now is a former director of Friends of the Earth, now an


environmental campaigner who stood for the Green Party in the general


election in the Cambridge. As a prominent environmentalist, you are


totally against any kind of airport expansion. A week to take a broad


view of this and one of the things that I would not is that in the


cities of England, we have quite a lot of airport and not much


wildlife. If we go ahead of this a large-scale development, we will


push that equation still further up in the wrong direction. You that


there the comparisons here about it the other countries that we compete


with on the global economic stage in terms of the size of their hub


airports. This is a commonly repeated plight about Heathrow be


not big enough to compete, but bear in mind that in Amsterdam the have


one big airport and we have one big airport and five others of the the


incises, so we have an enormous amount of airport capacity already.


If there is a case for expansion, the terms of getting access to


long-haul destinations, then let us change the way we're using the


capacity we have got, by reducing them at of short-haul flights, I


put in place more high-speed rail. What about the fact that we need it


new jobs? Gandhi environmental arguments stem -- stand up to be


economical and? As long as we see that the environmental and economic


argument are in opposition, have we will not get far. What we need to


do is build a Green economy which invest in those kind of industries


that will deliver long-term benefits for the future of the


planet, as well as jobs in the short term. It is strange that we


say that we should not be doing these things if China is bulletin


so much. A key goal to China today, you'll see the biggest investment


in the world going to soar panels, and to wind turbines and battery


technology, because they have realised that the future is based


on environmentally clean technologies. That is what we


should be putting our investment rather it than in highly polluting


sectors like aviation and a fossil fuels. We will come by tea and a


second. Gavin Shuker, the government is launching a


sustainable framework for radiation later this month. Why did this not


happen years ago? I think it is a shame that they are not building a


third runway at Heathrow because I believe that there is an aviation


capacity crunch coming her way. Once we have looked at it China as


the example, we can also look at them and realised they are building


100 you airports to get that technology into the hands of the


rest of the world. That is part of her be built a new a Green economy.


They are starting from having no airport. The her modernising their


economies. They are playing catch- up, not picking stuff on top of


what they already have. You can see clearly that there is a capacity


issue. Back in a believe Boris Johnson's plan will happen. The


collision can say they have an economic strategy. Is it


convenient? Even within the college and there is a lot of opposition.


Brazil is opposition to anything new that is proposed. Let us face


the facts. My idea of torture is going to Heathrow airport. It needs


modernisation. We need have some vision and look at whether this


island might be a good idea. I am moderately sympathetic to it and I


do not know whether I would think he wants the environment will


consultation has come through. We need to look at options because


Heathrow has had its day. There has always been an opposition. Let us


talk about the Victorians, who were against the railways. Surely we


should move with the Times? Times are of a shrinking planet, in


ecological terms, climate change getting to the point where


scientists are warning of a catastrophe later in this century.


We're getting to the point where mass extinction of plant and


animals is under way. We have to start recognising some of these


major environmental problems and playing a role in solving them as


if the future actually mattered. The scientists at the heart of


government are at signing letters that they have an unprecedented


emergency honour a Hance, when it comes to the climate issue and the


loss of animals and plants and here we are not in an airport in the


middle of a wildlife haven that will make massive carbon-dioxide


emissions. Let us build a clean and green economy. What about expansion


at Luton? At have welcomed the plans to expand all the time. We


think we can make a contribution to this capacity crunch that is coming,


using the infrastructure that is there. It does not solve our


problems about a hub airport. We need a serious hub that does not


fall over every time it rains or snows. We believe it there. It is


time for her political round-up. A last ditch attempt was made to


serve in the coastguard at Great Yarmouth. Will it was the saving


other rural banks. By answer an important part of our towns and


villages. When they leave somewhere, you like to think it is done in an


open way rather than in cuts just putting the shutters up. At Bedford


MP made the case for safeguarding our Tad -- cab drivers. They


deserve to be afforded the same protections for their physical


safety and the safety of their property as are a bus drivers.


Peterborough MP to do not want to save face with the Lib Dems, but


instead lashed out at their leader. Will the Prime is to close the


loophole for are multinational companies that allows the migrant


cap to be floated, using end to it -- into a company just for us, or


as is another one that will fall victim to the curse of Nick Clegg?


Objections to charges introduced to our national treasure.


What about that died at the Nick Clegg? that he died at Nick Clegg?


I think that Nick Clegg should start acting on his own principles.


The cracks in the coalition, are the real or is it just that our


East Anglian awkward squad, stirring the pot? There were always


be MPs raising questions. There are always going to be difficult pieces,


-- difficulties, but we were working together. Let us talk about


Big Ben. Why are you concerned about these charges? I think this


is unprecedented because people have never been charged for going


into the House of Commons before. It is undemocratic because no MPs


have had an input. A family of four will have to pay �60 a time to go


up the tower. We pay for it through her taxes. You are nodding and she


can go ahead at the same time! completely agree. I find it


astounding. One of the nicest things that I'd do when I got to


schools is say that I worked next to Big Ben. Addressing the best


thing is that they own it and they can come and see me there. It is


our office, but all of us on it. have tabled a motion that has been


signed by a lot of MPs from all parties and had gone to the


backbench committee asking for a vote on this. Thank you both very


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