MP EXTRACTS HINT THAT THE BLOCK ON FUNDING ST PANCRAS MAY BE LIFTED
Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has extracted a hint from Transport Minister, Alistair Darling, that the funding block on fitting out the railway station box under St Pancras Station may be lifted before long.
Peter Lilley said: “At Transport Questions in the House of Commons, I ask the Minister what the point was of spending many tens of millions of pounds on building a railway station box under St Pancras, given that he had subsequently failed to authorise the much smaller sum necessary to equip it so that people travelling from Harpenden can actually use it.
“My constituents faced months of delay during the blockade and are currently seeing no return on their time and trouble: nor, indeed, are taxpayers receiving any return on their investment.
“The Minister admitted that was a perfectly good point, but claimed that he wanted to make sure that additional funds to fit out that station were available. It is astonishing that they went ahead with the hugely expensive and disruptive first stage without knowing whether they could fund the money necessary to complete it.
“However, the Minister agreed with me that fitting out the new station box would make a big difference to the facilities available at St Pancras. I am pleased that he then hinted that he hopes to find a satisfactory solution in the not-too-distant future.
“I am continuing to press for a meeting with the Minister ? preferably with a delegation from St Albans District Council – to press for funding to be made available as a matter or urgency.?
Note to Editors:
Extract from Hansard attached.
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Will the Secretary of State explain what the point was of spending many tens of millions of pounds on building a railway station box under St. Pancras, given that he then failed to authorise the much smaller sum necessary to equip it, so that my constituents can actually use it? They faced months of delay during the blockade, and they are seeing no return on their time and trouble; nor, indeed, are taxpayers receiving any return on their investment. When will the Secretary of State authorise that sum?
Mr. Darling: That is a perfectly good point, and as the right hon. Gentleman knows, given that he is always lecturing us on the use of public funds, the explanation is that we must make sure that we can get the additional funds to fit out that station. That will make a big difference to the facilities available at St. Pancras and King?s Cross, and I hope that we can find a satisfactory solution in the not too distant future.
11 Oct 2005 : Column 141