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Rail link spat rumbles on

14.01.10

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has been accused by his Labour opposite number of withholding key information that could allow the scrapped Glasgow Airport Rail Link project to be re-instated, the Evening Times reports. Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr says he has repeatedly asked for details of the capital budget, to identify uncommitted cash, but his requests have been ignored.

MSPs will debate the Scottish Government Budget proposals in the next few weeks before a crucial vote, where the rail link is expected to be the key feature. Labour has already stated that their MSPs could not support a Budget that does not include the rail link, while the Conservatives and LibDems have yet to state how they will vote.

Mr Kerr believes there is enough cash not yet contractually committed in other areas of the budget that could be used to ensure the rail link is taken forward. He told the newspaper: ‘The SNP’s decision, which was condemned by many, sends a terrible signal to the Scottish business community and means the loss of 1300 jobs. Because capital budgets consist of new, continuing and completing projects it is normal that large amounts of funds are not contractually committed. There could be money in the Scottish Government’s bank account that is available to spend, but the SNP seems intent on covering up the facts.’

A Scottish Government spokesman told the newspaper: ‘The Glasgow Airport Rail Link is unaffordable in the face of Westminster-imposed cuts, when huge capital projects in Glasgow and elsewhere, such as Edinburgh / Glasgow rail infrastructure improvements, schools programme, the new Southern General Hospital, the M74 completion and the M80 upgrade, must be allocated the capital they need to go ahead.'

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