A proposed toll on part of the A14 will be a tax on Suffolk businesses, the county chamber of commerce has warned.
John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber said he welcomed the upgrading of the A14 in Cambridgeshire but had ‘grave concerns’ about the Highways Agency proposals for tolling the road.
The scheme is currently out to public consultation.
Mr Dugmore said: “Whilst the Chamber and business community welcome improvements and investment in the A14, we have always advocated that this must not be to the cost of Suffolk plc.
“Therefore, on first reading we have grave concerns regarding the Highways Agency consultation documentation.
“Suffolk Chamber members continue to press for a major upgrade of the A14 in Cambridgeshire because it is clear there will be benefits to Suffolk’s people and businesses.
“However, we also believe strongly that if government imposes a toll upon the new route, which will carry the strategic traffic from the Haven ports and the wider communities of Suffolk, then the Government will be asking the economy of Suffolk to contribute disproportionately to the cost of the project.
“In so doing it would also have an adverse effect upon the competitiveness of the county’s major commercial centres, particularly the ports.
“We need to look at the detail of the consultation document.
“However, we stress and reinforce our key concern that any tolling solution must not be to the detriment of the strategic ‘through traffic’, which in essence would be a tax on Suffolk businesses and a tax on UK plc.
“Suffolk is a county whose economy traditionally performs well; indeed it remains robustly resilient during this period of national economic inertia.
“It is also the home of a number of major ports, particularly Felixstowe.
“Therefore, if all these businesses face a toll charge every time they pass through Cambridgeshire it will be, in effect, a tax upon Suffolk’s business base and a tax upon the business community throughout the UK, providing more evidence that the private sector continues to bear the brunt of the economic crisis.
“Furthermore, it is a tax upon Suffolk that undermines our firms’ competitiveness in comparison to rivals elsewhere in the UK who remain unfettered by a toll upon major routes.”
There is an e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/54715