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Thursday, June 4, 1998 Published at 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK

Business: The Economy

Business calls for more transport spending

British business has joined the queue urging for more transport spending

With government decisions on spending imminent, British business has added its voice to those pressing for more public investment.

The British Chambers of Commerce says that road congestion is a problem for 87% of British firms, with nearly a third losing business as a result.

It says that greater investment in public transport, a national freight strategy, and congestion charging to reduce non-essential users on the road.

The report also calls on the government to give high priority to specific transport projects, like the Birmingham Northern relief road and the upgrading of the West Coast Main line.

And it calls for the government's forthcoming White Paper on transport policy to take a radical approach to reducing Britain's reliance on the road. It calls for greater efforts by government and business to encourage greater public transport use by the workforce.

The lack of public sector construction projects was highlighted by the Construction Confederation chairman, Martin Laing. He said that there was no sign of any pick-up despite government pledges to speed the Private Finance Iniative.

"It is vital that the government comes up with well thought out practical policies on integrated transport and road review," he said. "This is an issue on which we shall be judging the outcome of the government's comprehensive spending review.

With plans for government spending for the remainder of the Parliament due to be announced by the end of the month, Chancellor Gordon Brown has already indicated this week that he will be continuing with his tough controls on public borrowing. But he did indicate that investment projects, unlike current spending, would not count towards the deficit.

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