Suffolk: More business leaders back campaign against A14 tolls
- Credit: Archant
More business leaders are lining up in support of a campaign spearheaded by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce against the Government’s plans to charge tolls as part of an upgrade of the A14.
Among the latest organisations to signal their opposition to tolling are the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which has its UK headquarters in Ipswich and the Felixstowe Port Users Association.
The Department for Transport’s proposals for improving the congested Cambridge-Huntingdon section of the A14 involve charging vehicles to use a new Huntingdon bypass and demolishing part of the existing route through the town, forcing hauliers to pay the charge or face a lengthy detour.
Suffolk Chamber’s “No Toll Tax on Suffolk” campaign, which was launched in the EADT last week, highlights concerns that, with Felixstowe ranking at the UK’s largest container port, the county’s businesses will be affected disproportionately.
Jonathan Burke, general manager for transport at the Mediterranean Shipping Company, said: “By placing an additional ‘local’ toll without a realistic choice in alternative routes there is a justifiable concern that this will now increase costs in an arbitrary manner, with no realistic outcome other than local businesses absorbing this additional cost at a very challenging time,”
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And Simon Fraser, chairman of the port users’ association, added: “There is no doubt that tolling the A14 will have a detrimental impact on business and the economy of Suffolk. A toll will distort competition between businesses across all sectors located in Suffolk and competitors elsewhere that will have lower transport costs to get to market.”
Charles Downie, director at Bacton Transport Services, has also added his voice to the campaign. “I support the ‘No Toll Tax on Suffolk’ campaign because it’s unfair to the county, its businesses, its working population and the whole community.” he said.
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“At my business, we estimate the toll would add more than £20,000 a year to our costs, but the transport industry is an easy target and it’s not the real battleground. The cost will be passed on by businesses and added to the price of goods on the shelves.”
Other business organisations in the region have also expressed concern over the A14 toll plans, including the Suffolk branches of the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses and the New Anglia LEP.
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, said: “We’re delighted with the positive support this campaign is receiving. We are at the start of a long journey, but we begin from solid foundations of support.”
And he added: “Our MPs are in Manchester this week at the Tory party conference and, through Therese Coffey MP, we will be ensuring that decisionmakers high in Government, such as the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McCloughlin, are fully aware of Suffolk plc’s concerns.”