A £12 million Government grant for a key transport project is under threat.

Brighton and Hove City Council has been chastised by the Government and the South East England Regional Assembly (Seera) for not pushing forward with its Rapid Transport Scheme.

The bus-based system was earmarked to start in 2008 after the council convinced Seera and the Department for Transport (DfT) to make it a priority.

But the start date has now been pushed back to April 2011 at the earliest and it is looking increasingly likely the council will be required to reapply for the money for a revised scheme.

In a letter to Seera, the DfT wrote: "Delays in the provision of satisfactory information by Brighton and Hove have prevented progression of this project.

"Given the history of this scheme and its lack of progress the region may wish to review its continued support for the scheme in the second regional funding allocation round."

Seera's transport board responded: "The lack of progress with the scheme is extremely disappointing all the more so given that the board has supported a proposition to accelerate the delivery of the scheme in the past."

At its last meeting the board asked the secretariat to report back on the current situation with regards to the scheme.

It is clear that several factors have changed since the scheme was prioritised, not least of which more recently the impact of the downturn in the economy means that the business case for the scheme needs to be reviewed.

The Tube-like buses would run on dedicated lanes and have a limited number of stops and station-like platforms.

The route would connect Brighton Marina, Brighton Station and the King Alfred.

But the business plan was based on hundreds of homes being built at the King Alfred and at Brighton Marina and millions of pounds being invested by the developers.

A council spokesman said: "We remain committed to the delivery of a Rapid Transport Scheme and to a park-and-ride solution for the city.

"The national economic downturn has had a significant impact on local development and this, in turn, has had an effect on the progress of the RTS."