Is Ed Miliband’s pledge over a third crossing for Lowestoft just an ‘empty promise’?
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Ed Miliband has reportedly pledged that his party will support a bid for a third crossing for Lowestoft if he is elected prime minister at next May's general election – despite not giving any firm promises on a visit to the town a week before that the project would happen under a Labour government.
On a trip to the bascule bridge following his recent speech about immigration in Yarmouth, Mr Miliband was pressed by the EDP on whether he could guarantee that a third crossing would get the green light under a Labour administration.
Mr Miliband – who was accompanied by Bob Blizzard, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney – explained there was a process to follow whereby regional government would make a recommendation to Whitehall, but stopped short of making any firm commitments.
'It's for the Department of Transport to make that decision,' he said.
He added Labour was 'going to want that to happen because it's clearly a big issue' but said there were steps along the way and that a strong local MP would be needed to make the case.
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However, a quote published on Mr Blizzard's website after the visit records Mr Miliband as saying: 'If a Labour government received a bid for a third crossing, we would support it.'
Mr Blizzard said Mr Miliband's position is that if one of the three options being proposed for a crossing over Lake Lothing published in a report by engineering consultants WSP earlier this month can be agreed, a Labour government would build that scheme.
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However, Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said the Labour leader's pledge was an 'empty promise' and that the WSP report into the three options, which had been commissioned by the council, had brought a third crossing closer to being a reality.
'We would want to know an awful lot more substance about what the Labour party are promising,' he said.
'There is an awful lot more work to do. It almost seems to be a little bit of political rhetoric and in some ways is why the public have a distrust of politicians when they come out with these empty promises.
'We've been here before. We heard since 1997 how it was Bob Blizzard's number one priority. What we've got here in the report is something much more substantial and can attract government funding.
'We are closer to getting a third crossing than we have been at any time in the last 25 years.'
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