Hazel Blears is at the centre of a Cabinet row over the future of the £16bn London Crossrail project, The Times has learnt.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has agreed with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, in preventing businesses from being given a vote on whether they should help to fund the controversial scheme.

But the Department of Communities and Local Government, run by Blears, refuses to exempt Crossrail from a requirement to ballot companies if they are being asked to shoulder more than a third of a scheme’s cost.

Johnson has committed £3.5bn towards the cost of the new rail route linking Heathrow and Canary Wharf, pledging to raise the cash through an additional levy on business rates in the capital from next year.

The Times