Thursday, October 24, 2019

Transport secretary backs reopening of Market Harborough to Northampton line

OK it's only Grant Shapps, but in the Commons today the transport secretary said he was "very supportive" of the reopening of the railway line from Market Harborough to Northampton.

The idea was recently put forward in the consultation document for the new West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan.

The line closed to all traffic in 1981 - you can see some photos I took on its last day on this blog.

Shapps could not resist having a dig at Labour by pointing out that the Beeching closures took place under Harold Wilson's government.

That is true, but the political force behind Beeching's report was the Conservative transport secretary Ernest Marples. And Marples was making a fortune out of building motorways.

As Lewis Baston once wrote on Conservative Home:
Even by the rather lax standards of conflict of interest and disclosure that prevailed at the time, it was incongruous that the civil engineering firm that built many of the early motorways was none other than Marples Ridgway (a name that was also applied to the new Hammersmith Flyover). 
Marples was pressured to dispose of his shareholding, which he apparently did in 1960, some say by ‘selling’ the shares to his wife, others to an offshore trust under his disguised ownership; the record is not clear. 
As well as building up the motorways and giving Marples Ridgway lots of opportunity to build bridges and mix concrete, Marples ran down the railways. 
Corrupt as hell? You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.


David Evans said...

Perhaps a more appropriate headline would be "Transport secretary says he backs reopening of Market Harborough to Northampton line - There must be an election coming."

crewegwyn said...

Indeed. Add it to a long list of ministers making vaguely supportive noises, which - in reality - mean nothing at all.

Geoff said...

"Early in 1975 Marples suddenly fled to Monte Carlo.[20] He left just before the end of the tax year, fearing that he would otherwise be liable for a substantial tax bill." A true con servative!