Labour’s Transport team revamped after John Woodcock steps down


After John Woodcock stepped down from the Labour front bench while he recovers from his recent fall, Maria Eagle has taken the opportunity to revamp the party’s Transport team.

Yvonne Fovargue has been appointed to Labour’s front-bench team, and will take on the important local transport brief, with a focus on the need to support local authorities to reregulate local bus services and deliver a major step forward in support for cycling including separated cycling infrastructure.

Jim Fitzpatrick continues as Maria Eagle’s deputy but with an expanded brief that adds roads policy to his existing responsibilities for aviation, shipping, road safety and London.

Lilian Greenwood has been given “an essential new brief” becoming Labour’s voice on rail, ahead of a crucial year which will see rail fares, franchising and HS2 dominating the transport agenda, and with Labour beginning to set out its own alternative plans for the industry.

Behind the scenes, Eagle has also hired a new adviser – the highly regarded Matt Patterson, who moves over from the Treasury. Patterson is a former party staffer and worked for Labour in the European Parliament before working for Darling and then Osborne in the Treasury. He’s been given a brief to improve Labour’s profile on transport in the media, both through stronger attacks on the Government’s failures and setting out Labour’s own alternative agenda.

More generally in the year ahead, Maria Eagle and Labours Transport team will seek to focus on exposing the Government’s failures on transport including on:

  • money wasted by the franchising fiasco
  • the impact of rail fare rises
  • cuts to bus funding
  • “dithering” over HS2
  • and a “complete failure” to set out a plan for aviation

Transport is likely to become increasingly key to Ed Miliband’s agenda too, with the Labour leader making so secret of the importance he places upon it from both an infrastructure and a cost of living point of view.

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