Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will not rule out A47 toll

Transport minister, Stephen Hammond, centre, at the A47 yesterday <mon> with local MPs, from left, Henry Bellingham, Chloe...

Transport minister, Stephen Hammond, centre, at the A47 yesterday <mon> with local MPs, from left, Henry Bellingham, Chloe Smith, Richard Bacon, George Freeman, Elizabeth Truss, and Keith Simpson. Picture: Denise Bradley

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has refused to rule out the idea of a toll for improvements to the A47, launching a staunch defence of A14 charge plans in the region.

The Liberal Democrat leader described plans to pay for the new £1.5bn stretch of road between Cambridge and Huntingdon through a charge of between £1 and £3 as a 'sign of the times', saying it was worth 'spreading the burden' at a time when people's weekly budgets were squeezed.

His comments come after roads minister Stephen Hammond said the key A47 route was ranked in the top six in the country for future roads funding during a visit to the region on Monday. The government is carrying out a feasibility study on a possible scheme.

Mr Clegg said: 'I think we have been very upfront with people that at the end of the day someone has to pay for the work when you build a new road or you entirely expand increased or existing capacity. What we are saying is if you expect all other tax payers to pay for it, well fine, but at a time when a lot of people are feeling a squeeze on their weekly or personal budgets we thought that actually it might be worth trying the spread the burden.'

The principle of road tolls is still not accepted by some Suffolk businesses and politicians – who feel the move on the A14 puts the county, and particularly the Port of Felixstowe – at a disadvantage in comparison with other parts of the country. He said haulage companies worried about the toll were being hit by sitting in traffic for long periods.


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