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CBI calls for toll charging on UK roads

Date: 15 October 2012   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

The Confederation of British Industry has called for an overhaul on Britain's roads in a report that would see part of motorists' road taxes being converted into a "user charge", which could also extend to toll charges over the longer term.

The demands, made in a CBI report entitled Bold Thinking: A model to fund our future roads, comes as the organisation claims the UK economy is already losing up to £8 billion each year from congestion, which could potentially rise to £22 billion by 2025.

The CBI added that a recent infrastructure survey showed that three in four businesses were not confident that transport networks will improve in the next five years.

It also called for privatisation to "overcome the current funding gaps in the UK's road network", a £10 billion shortfall in Highways Agency projects, according to the CBI.

Private operators would be licensed by a regulator, which would also have power to cap charges levied to drivers.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: "Every day, people up and down the UK lose time and money because of our clogged-up roads - whether you're a business waiting for an urgent delivery, or a commuter stuck in the morning rush-hour.

"With public spending checked, the case for new funding solutions is even more compelling, and the Government recognises this.

"Infrastructure matters to business, and delivering upgrades to our networks is one of the highest priorities for the CBI to get the economy moving again."

But managing director of Leaseplan, David Brennan, protested that suggestions of privatisation and more toll roads was not the solution.

"Road travel is a necessity, not a luxury, for many businesses. These organisations make a substantial tax contribution to the Treasury and in return they should be able to drive on roads that are fit for purpose - without incurring further costs."

He continued: "The M6 Toll has highlighted the shortfalls of toll roads in the UK.

"Faced with some of the highest charges in Europe, motorists are still opting to drive on the neighbouring M6, where traffic levels are rising."

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