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Darling denies rift with antitram officials delayed decisions


TRANSPORT secretary Alistair Darling has denied that a rift with his department is the reason for refusing to decide the fate of tram schemes.

Speaking about the proposed £660 million Manchester Metrolink, Mr Darling was asked if a delay in decision making was due to anti-tram civil servants.

He said: 'I am the secretary of state and what matters is what the secretary of state thinks. For any transport system to be effective you have to address other traffic pressures, and it has to be affordable.' Waiting for approval alongside Metrolink are the £300 million Merseytram and £350 million Leeds Supertam.

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, said: 'It's all very well saying tram schemes need to be affordable, but the costs of the Leeds Supertram have been cut right down and the Government still does not have the decency to give it a yes or no.

'What we are frustrated about is the difference in funding between the regions and London. Everyone was pleased we won the Olympics but it absolutely must not be at the expense of regional capitals.' A source close to the Supertram said: 'It is clear the department just doesn't have the money. The Olympic bid has blown us out of the water.'

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