M6 Toll: the cost of rhetoric too high says top businessman

Responding to the announcement by the Labour West Midlands Mayoral candidate that the M6 Toll should be free for all to use, Paul Cadman, one of Manufacturing Magazine's Top 100 most inspiring and influential individuals in Manufacturing; finalist in EY's Entrepreneur of the Year, 2016; West Midlands Business Masters Manufacturer of the Year, 2016; and Acquisition International's Most Innovative UK Leader for 2016 said “This was something the Black Country Chamber of Commerce were pushing for as far back as 2014.

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Image Credit: Adrian Bailey / CC BY 2.0

"In fact the leaked prospectus for the West Midlands Combined Authority mentioned a free M6 Toll in the first draft submitted to Government. However, when the prospectus was published, any mention of the M6 Toll had vanished.

"The M6 Toll is a £2 billion asset which costs £100 million to run. It would be an enormous liability for the Combined Authority to take on board unless they were able to get a much better deal. If you analyse the data, between Junctions 3 and 11 of the M6, 80% of the traffic is local. Of the 20% that is ‘through’ traffic, 60% of it already uses the M6 Toll. I am no longer convinced that any improvement in traffic flow is worth the cost to the citizens and businesses of the region. Nevertheless nationalisation does seem to be the mantra of the Labour Party, whatever the cost and however ill-thought out the policy.

Commenting on the announcement that congestion charges have been ruled out by Council Chiefs, Mr. Cadman continued “We should not be penalising the public and hauliers in the first place for failures in local and central government policy.

"It would be better for the Mayoral candidates to talk about improving and integrating public transport, perhaps with some of the car clubs or sharing facilities that exist across the region. The Liberal Democrat candidate Beverley Nielsen must lead the way on a creating a balanced, and inclusive transport system; one that accelerates the links between the M54 and the M6 Toll and M6 North. That will make the M6 Toll more compelling for freight. As more hauliers benefit from a more integrated motorway network, congestion and emissions on the M6 itself will reduce.  This is the message we need to get out to the voting public: the Liberal Democrats will not waste money on rhetoric and outdated solutions."