Nationalise the M6 Toll, Conservative MP urges Government
South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson has called the sale of the M6 Toll road a 'once in a generation opportunity' and urged the Government to take the road into public ownership.
Mr Williamson said he was writing to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin asking him to look at buying the toll motorway for the country.
The 27 banks that own the toll road have put it up for sale with the aim of recovering the £1.9 billion in debt they are owed.
They took over ownership of the road in a major financial restructuring exercise two years ago, although Midland Expressway continues to operate and maintain the road.
Mr Williamson said: "This is a once in a generation opportunity to take this asset into public ownership and make it possible for it to work more effectively for the West Midlands and the rest of the UK.
"Potentially you could still charge to use it, but at a much lower rate that makes it possible for more people to use it regularly, creating a far higher rate of useage than at present.
"We don't have a lack of motorways in the West Midlands, what we have is a motorway that is massively under used. In one move we can transform the situation and improve the way the motorway network works for the people of the West Midlands."
Meanwhile business leaders have urged any future owners of the M6 Toll to ensure that it becomes an integral part of the UK's motorway network to ease congestion believed to be costing West Midlands firms more than £2.2 billion a year.
Operated by Midland Expressway, the 27-mile route between Cannock and Coleshill opened in 2003.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce which also covers the Cannock Chase and Lichfield areas of Staffordshire, said: "With the prospect of putting the toll road into state ownership unrealistic, we call on any new owners and the regulators to ensure it is properly integrated into the motorway network in order to do the job it was intended for – relieving pressure on the M6.
"There should also be provision for the toll road to be opened up in times of gridlock, like the occasion last week when the M6 was closed for 24 hours because of a fatal crash at Spaghetti Junction.
"Surveys conducted by the chamber have indicated that businesses are suffering unacceptable delays and rising costs caused by congestion.
"What is clear is that doing nothing to make full use of the toll is simply not an option. Road congestion currently costs businesses in the West Midlands over £2.2 billion per year in lost time, additional fuel costs and general stress."
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