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Not much sold in Big Sell Off

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Chris Mason Chris Mason | 08:15 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

Day three of 5 live Drives Down the Deficit and we're in Haltwhistle in Northumberland.

The town claims to mark the spot that is the geographical centre of Britain. So what better place to survey the country for national assets that our panel of wannabe chancellors might want to sell?

Sitting at the bar at the Centre of Britain Hotel, our panel.

Chris Mason and his panel in Northumberland

Mike Pearson runs a cafe here. Barbara Medley is a retired university administrator. Michael Wilcox is a playwright.

Selling off the major roads could save around £6.5 billion a year. Selling the bits of the rail network still owned by the state could bring in £1.5 billion annually. But there are no takers for either here. The panel is unanimous: the countryside gets a rough deal on public transport, people rely on their cars, and privatisation might mean higher prices.

Privatising universities gets short shrift too, as does selling off national museums and imposing charges. Slash and burn merchants our Northumberland chancellors are not. They do though agree to privatise the state owned bookie the Tote. But the current government and their predecessors agreed too-but couldn't find a buyer.

On days one and two of this exercise our panels suggested savings of around 11bn. Today, savings of just £1 million.

On Thursday it is welfare spending, and we're off to Fife.


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