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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK


M74 extension cost row

Private money is needed, says the pressure group

Taxpayers could be saddled with a private sector debt of at least £177m for up to 30 years to build a road no-one needs, a transport pressure group has warned.

Joint Action Against the M74 (JAM74) believes the government will not provide money to build a planned five-mile motorway extension through south-east Glasgow because of its commitment to public transport and other sustainable transport options.

The group has sent a briefing to local councillors warning them that money to pay for the motorway will have to come from the Private Finance Initiative.

[ image: City council backs extension]
City council backs extension
The planned extension from Cambuslang to the heart of Glasgow, which the city council has costed at around £177m, has been strongly criticised by a number of transport groups.

This is despite assurances from Glasgow City Council that the link is vital to relieve local traffic pressure and stimulate new business in the area.

In January, the Scottish Association for Public Transport called the proposed extension "absurdly expensive" and damaging to the environment, arguing that it should be ditched in favour of road, rail and bus improvements.

Now JAM74, a coalition of community, environmental and sustainable transport groups, have placed the focus on the potential cost to council taxpayers in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.

Spokesman Donald Matheson said it was likely "councillors would be asked to sell a private finance initiative deal to their constituents" if the proposal went ahead.

No enthusiasm

He continued: "Councillors need to know that if they want this road without government backing they are going to have to face PFI or a similar scheme.

"The Scottish Office, which has a drastically reduced roads programme, has expressed no enthusiasm for taking over a motorway extension as a trunk road."

Mr Matheson said both Glasgow and South Lanarkshire councils had "severely depleted capital programmes" which were unlikely to be able to absorb the huge cost.

He said: "This is not a hospital or a school but a controversial motorway that all the experts now recognise carries no guarantee of economic benefits.

"The only thing it guarantees is more pollution, more traffic clogging feeder roads and less money for much-needed public transport."

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