Will there be enough money for all the election promises?

A Greater Anglia train - but will the investment still come through after the next general election?

A Greater Anglia train - but will the investment still come through after the next general election? - Credit: Archant

As we get nearer and nearer next year’s general election, we’re hearing more and more promises from the major parties on what they will be offering us.

And I have to say I’m far from convinced about some of the pledges I’m hearing.

Labour seems to have pledged to spend a levy on bankers’ bonuses several times on just about every training course that you can imagine.

And the Tories are happy to set up task forces to look at this, that, and the other so long as they can find other people’s money to spend on projects!

Transport is a particular interest of mine, and it has been interesting to see how the two major parties have danced around the major issues in this region over the last four years.

To be honest, Labour’s record on transport in East Anglia hasn’t been great in the past – although their investment in other areas such as creating UCS and building Suffolk One has been admirable.

During Labour’s 13 years in power there were no major new roads built and no major improvements on the region’s rail lines.

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The A11 dualling had been talked about, but it was only after the change in government in 2010 that the decision was made and work started.

Labour had been dancing around the question of upgrading the A14 from Cambridge to Huntingdon for years, but hadn’t taken it far enough for it to be a fait accompli.

And the rail routes, especially the main line to London, saw virtually no major investment – the industry was so preoccupied with picking up the pieces of the Hatfield/Railtrack debacle.

I do feel it is important that the progress that has been made on both road and rail investment over recent years is maintained if there is a change of government next year.

Labour politicians have, when prompted, told me that they are in favour of maintaining the investment that is currently being proposed. But unprompted, they tend to talk more about spending money on training schemes, and other poverty-easing measures than they do about investing in infrastructure.

Some of Labour’s policies are laudable – the bedroom tax has proved to be a disaster for the government – but it would be good to feel that party recognised the importance of infrastructure investment as well.

The fact is that there is only a limited amount of government money and most people recognise we have to have high-quality health and education services.

Of course it is vital that services are provided to support the most needy in society, but there also needs to be investment in the infrastructure that is used by everyone.

Trying to find the right balance is the Holy Grail for all politicians, but having been given a glimpse of a bright future, voters in this part of the world will need to be convinced that investment plans are safe – whoever wins in 2015.