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Axe to fall on major projects across UK

The Government has cancelled 12 projects and suspended several more after its review of spending authorised by the previous regime since the start of 2010.

The £450 million North Tees and Hartlepool hospital is the biggest job cancelled.

Other building schemes put on ice include the £50m Leeds Holt Park Well-being Centre, and the £94m Birmingham Magistrates Court.

The £12m Sheffield Retail Quarter and the £23m Kent Thameside Strategic Transport Programme have also been suspended.

However, the cuts announced last week were expected to be just the start. As H&V News went to press, there were expectations of major cuts to the Building Schools for the Future programme in the emergency Budget, held yesterday.

Announcing the cancellations and suspensions, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “We are determined to tackle the unprecedented budget deficit and bad financial management we have seen over the past decade, but are equally determined to do this in a way that is fair and responsible.

“As a result of the poor decisions made by the previous Government, I have taken the decision to cancel certain projects that do not represent good value for money, and suspend others pending full consideration in the Spending Review.”

The coalition has also said it had found a “black hole”, whereby at least £1bn of spending that had been promised relied on non-existent underspending and was hence unavailable.

“We have also found another spending blackhole in the previous Government’s plans - projects had been approved with no money in place to pay for them. I am determined to deal with this problem head-on and ensure we never see this kind of irresponsible financial planning in Government again.”

It is unclear which projects come under the latest review, but it will exclude commitments for military operations and the financial package agreed with the Northern Ireland Executive to support the devolution of policing and justice powers.

The Treasury also gave a clear indication that hefty cuts were likely to the £55 billion BSF programme.

The coalition government had refused to be drawn on plans for the Labour-led scheme to rebuild or refurbish every state secondary school in England by 2023.

But it was widely expected that Chancellor George Osborne would reduce funding for the programme at the emergency Budget yesterday.

Mr Alexander said last week: “The Government inherited a large number of school building projects approved in recent months as part of the BSF programme.

“The education secretary has previously announced that he is looking at the whole BSF programme, including those projects entered into before 1 January.

“Tough decisions will need to be made on reducing costs and addressing where spending has been over-committed.”