Suffolk: Mixed views over A14 tolling proposal

Therese Coffey MP

Therese Coffey MP - Credit: Archant

As news of the proposed tolls for the A14 in Cambridgeshire emerged yesterday, there was more reaction to the decision of the government to press ahead with a toll section.

However the comparatively low level of the tolls and the fact they will not operate at night has eased some fears among affected MPs.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and his Suffolk Coastal colleague Dr Therese Coffey have been working together to lobby ministers in an attempt to ensure the county is not put at a substantial disadvantage because of the tolls.

Both felt their lobbying efforts had paid off to some extent.

Mr Gummer said that by charging between £1 and £1.50 for cars and double that for large vehicles, it would still be cheaper to use the new road than alternative routes through St Neots or St Ives.

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“It is still a tax on the region and I am not happy about it – but at this level of tolls, it would make no sense to make a long detour and use up much more fuel costing much more than the toll.”

Dr Coffey was relieved to see that there would be no tolls overnight and felt the initial document suggested that the government had listened to the concerns.

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The two MPs differ on the need for changing the way roads are paid for generally – Mr Gummer said he remained in favour of the principle of road pricing, but it should be introduced in all parts of the country, not just on one strategic route to one region.

Dr Coffey said she had not advocated road pricing everywhere, but accepted tolls might be necessary to fund new roads – however it was not right to only use it to fund one new road in one region.

Meanwhile the Freight Transport Association warned that new tolls would push up costs – which would be passed on to consumers.

Malcolm Bingham from the organisation said: “FTA welcomes at long last a commitment to fund the upgrading of this essential strategic piece of infrastructure.

“But tolling is always bad news for the logistics industry as it is always taken as a threat of extra cost.”

“What is plain is that charges or tolls will not affect the need to take goods and services to the customer. Those journeys will have to be made, the toll will have to be paid and transport companies will aim to pass on those extra costs to the customer.”

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