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Loss-making M6 Toll road could be bought by local councils

Date: 07 October 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has indicated the M6 Toll road could be bought out by local councils.

The loss-making 27-mile road between Cannock and Coleshill in the Midlands originally opened in 2003 at a cost of £900m, but was taken over by a consortium of 27 banks in 2013 in a debt restructuring deal.

The road - which charges drivers £5.50 per journey and has an average usage of 52,462 vehicles per day, according to the latest traffic figures from the operators - has reportedly been put up for sale at cost in excess of £1bn.

According to Grayling, if the West Midlands Combined Authority - which is made up of Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and the City of Wolverhampton Council - wanted to buy the road he would not stand in its way.

"I have no philosophical objection to the combined authority to purchase the road," the transport secretary told local newspaper Express and Star.  

But he added: "We have to bear in mind at a time when taxpayers' money is in short supply and we want to invest in infrastructure, are we better off spending the money on taking over something that is already there or investing in a new project?"

"The M6 Toll is an asset to the region, I understand why people want to buy it but there are other needs for infrastructure in the West Midlands, too," he said.

According to the paper, South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson previously mooted the idea of buying the road and held meetings with Government officials.

"A new approach has to be taken to the M6 Toll, which encourages people to use it. This would involve making it accessible and cheaper for people to use, which would provide a great benefit and significantly alleviate congestion on the M6 and access onto the M5," he told the paper.