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Government told to act speedily as M6 toll price rises 17pc.

Midlands business leaders have called on the Government to step in to regulate prices on the M6 Toll.

They made their appeal after bosses of the motorway, which stretches for 27 miles from Junction 11a near Cannock, Staffordshire, to Junction 4 at Coleshill, Warwickshire, announced a 17 per cent tariff rise on Monday.

From June 14, car, van and HGV drivers will have to pay between pounds 3.50 and pounds 7 - a pounds 1 rise - and motorcyclists will have to hand over pounds 2.50 - a 50p increase.

Jerry Blackett, policy director at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the rise would deter hauliers and that the pounds 905 million motorway should be subject to some form of consumer protection He said: 'The size of the increase is a shock and the last thing business needs when it is coping with a slowing economy and global competition where prices for raw materials have risen by up to 60 per cent or more.

'We believe the figures for HGV usage on the toll road are small and this increase will serve only to deter even more hauliers from using it' The result of that will be to put more congestion back on the M6.'

Mr Blackett said the operator, Midlands Expressway Limited, had a 'carte blanche' to set whatever prices it wanted.

'We urge Government to exercise its influence to see proper regulation of prices on the toll road and to do whatever it can to see increases linked to inflation plus a reasonable sum for the maintenance of the road.

'We believe in the free market and want to see enterprise encouraged, but even national utilities such as gas and electricity are subject to some form of consumer protection.

'With carte blanche to do whatever it likes on prices for decades to come, there is no regulation whatsoever on how this scarce asset is maximised to the best advantage of the region and the country.'

Mr Blackett wants to see road tax and fuel duty scrapped in favour of a 'pay as you go' system and a greater commitment to building new roads
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 18, 2005
Words:355
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