March 16 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Abandoning the A14 charge was a “clear line in the sand” that the government is not going charge drivers to use new “A” roads or motorways, a minister has said.
Robert Goodwill said the decision to drop plans to charge for a new stretch of road in Cambridgeshire in order to help meet the £1.5bn bill, did not just send out a clear message to East Anglia, but to the whole country.
Adding there was no “secret plan” within a cabinet in the Department for Transport to start charging for roads after the next election.
He said: “I think there is a general view in this country that roads have been paid for through their tax disc and their fuel duty. They would not take kindly to paying for it again.”
“It was an unusual case as it was a new piece of infrastructure, but it is important that we send out a clear signal that we do not intend to fund new A roads or motorways by imposing tolls.”
Although he did say that tunnels and bridges could be the exception, with the Lower Thames Crossing an example of infrastructure that could be charged for.
He also defended plans to create a new private company to oversee the road building plan, adding: “Be in no doubt in this committee that the move to setting up a government owned company is not a short cut to privatisation, it is not to privatise the network.”
Questioned on those making the business case for roads by Norwich MP Chloe Smith, who is campaigning for improvements to the A47, he praised the formation of Local Enterprise Partnerships which he said brought a business voice. He also highlighted the delegation of MPs from Norfolk who visited him earlier this month to press the case for an upgrade.