Daily Archives: March 2, 2012

Jim Pickard

This week’s meeting of the cabinet was a robust occasion, with heated argument across the long lozenge-shaped table in Downing Street. Eric Pickles was criticised for failing to transform the planning system quickly enough; Caroline Spelman was taken to task for failing to push back on an EU habitats directive; there was a lengthy debate about whether Vince Cable’s department has done enough to get help to small businesses. We described the occasion as a kind of “star chamber” in our FT coverage. I’m also told there was a discussion over whether the coalition should abandon its pledge to be the “greenest government ever“, although the details on who said what are a bit sketchy.

One issue which came up was infrastructure, and whether the coalition is inching towards Osborne’s grand plan to get £20bn of pension fund money into public and private schemes in transport, energy, communications and so on. Apparently the chancellor asked why progress is not faster on the A14 upgrade – a key arterial route connecting the port of Felixstowe with the rest of the country. The process of getting in private funding to build a new toll is moving slowly, with publication of options not until this summer. Read more