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Toll tales…

November 14, 2011

Keighley, England – Hey lets play consequences…

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP

Met…

The  UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Vince Cable MP

In…

The House of Commons’ Sports and Social Club Bar (allegedly)

George said…

Look Vince I’ve got a bit of a problem reference funding the £200 billion infrastructure improvements I’ve pencilled in to mention in the Chancellor’s autumn statement I’m making on November 29.

Vince said…

Not an issue George simple raise £50 billion from the private sector, offering them a cut from the profits of the infrastructure they build as a sweetener.

And the consequence was…

A network of toll roads that only the well off can use…

Satire or the truth?

We have been here before. Just over a decade ago the Blair led Labour Government came up with the idea of funding a rebuilding of Britain’s deteriorating road system by allowing private industry to build toll roads.

A pilot scheme was needed. As congestion on the M6 motorway around Birmingham was hitting record levels it was decided that the proposed Birmingham North Relief Road would be built with private money, which the  road constructors would  recover by levying tolls on the road.

Thus after many and lengthy public enquiries, during the course of which it emerged that motorcycles would be  charged to use the now named M6 Toll, construction started in September 2000.

Opened in 2003 the M6 Toll is owned and operated by Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL) a subsidiary of  Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG), an Australian company notable for its less than philanthropic approach to toll pricing.

Hence the cost of using the 27mile (43km) long M6 toll road, £5.30 for cars and £3.00 for motorcycles day rates, makes it among the most if not the most expensive, on a per mile/kilometre basis, toll road in the world.

As toll prices have risen, from a 2004 low of £2 for cars, people have simple voted with their feet, or in this case their wheels, and returned to using the non tolled M6 which is now as congested as ever. Meantime the M6 Toll road  designed to take 100,000 vehicles a day is in fact only attracting 34,000 users daily.

And MEL. Well MEL have a contact that gives them a concession to collect tolls for 50 years and they can charge whatever they like. Add in the fact that recent Freedom of Information applications, to the UK Department for Transport, have allegedly revealed so called “secret”  contract clauses which allow measures to “encourage” vehicles to use the toll road. Then little wonder that if not laughing  MEL appear to be doing a rather nice smiley, and there’s always the option of flogging the road back to the UK Government!

So much for freedom of choice, an end to the war on motorists and a road network fit for purpose and that all citizens can afford to use.

So when George and Vince float their idea of privately built and run toll roads. Talk of fairness, a new approach, a road network fit for hero’s and transparency just remember the M6 Toll and think 10 years ahead!

Yes you will be paying and paying a lot!

In the last week the Tax Payers’ Alliance have released a report which shows that just £13.4billion of  an annual income from fuel duty and road tax (VED) of £31.5billion is spent on UK roads. That means drivers/riders are effectively handing over £18.1billion too much to the Treasury to be spent on….

Ride far, fast and safe.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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