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Monday D-Day for Merseytram; Statement over cash.

Byline: BY ANDY KELLY

A HOUSE of Commons statement on Monday will decide the immediate fate of Merseytram.

Liverpool council yesterday cleared the way for building work to start on the project - as they urged the government to make an immediate announcement on funding.

The city's executive board yesterday agreed an implementation certificate with tram promoter Merseytravel, effectively allowing the transport authority to start digging Line One.

But the certificate is subject to the Department of Transport (DfT) confirming its funding for the project and any conditions not putting council finances at risk.

As the Daily Post revealed, that funding was due to be announced by the DfT earlier this week but never materialised.

Now a statement is to be made in the House of Commons on Monday which it is hoped will finally confirm the support.

A grant of around pounds 200m from government is needed towards the estimated pounds 250m cost of Line One which will run from the city centre to Kirkby.

Cllr Peter Millea, Liverpool's executive member for regeneration, said: 'We are minded to grant the certificate - subject to some negotiations - even though the Government has not yet confirmed its funding as we want to be as supportive of Merseytram as possible.

'Merseytram is a crucial part of the regeneration of Liverpool, and will enhance the city's public transport with a new network of modern, efficient and clean trams.

The council is also seeking assurances that all other funding for the project is, or will be, in place as it wants to be satisfied that no additional financial burden should fall on council taxpayers because of the scheme.

Further negotiations are to take place with Merseytravel about a number of issues relating to highways including the alignment of the tram line at Lime Street, Kings Dock, and the Pier Head; design work at the Paradise Project and the extent of the work at William Brown Street.

Tom McCabe, Liverpool's assistant executive director for regeneration, has been at the heart of the negotiations over Merseytram.

He will now lead the 10-man 'consenting' team of council officers and consultants on Merseytram.

Mr McCabe believes the schedule for Line One remains very challenging but the council's work has helped make it more realistic.

A Merseytravel spokesman gave the move a cautious welcome.

He said: 'We've not yet received the report and we've not been notified by the Department for Transport.

'There are still some outstanding issues with the council and we're in constant discussions with themandykelly@dailypost.co.uk

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2005
Words:424
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