A14 toll welcome – but at right price

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JAMS on the Fen Ditton section of the A14 are strangling transport to and from Suffolk, according to the county’s chamber of commerce.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to make improvements on the section between Cambridge and Huntingdon a priority as it reports to Whitehall on the outcome of a member survey on the road’s problems.

It said the survey, to which hundreds of businesses responded, was one of the most popular it had carried out. It asked members for views on Government proposals, which include the idea of a tolled alternative route, as on the M6 round Birmingham.

The results of the survey, which was run through December and up to the end of January, show that while nearly 55 per cent of businesses would like the option of a toll road for the A14 section, 68 per cent would not be willing to pay £5 to use it.

The current weekday car charge on the 27-mile M6 Toll is £5.30 and lorries pay £10.60, so if the same rate per mile was paid for the 15 miles of A14 it would cost £2.90 and £5.80.

In his autumn statement, the Chancellor promised action on the A14 but Dr Peter Funnell, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s president, said this week: “The A14 plays a fundamental part in the daily operation of the Suffolk economy. For far too long the need to address what are regular incidents of congestion has been ignored. The results of this survey are a clear indication that business wants action on improvements and wants that action now.

“These results show that while a majority of businesses think a toll road along the Fen Ditton section of the A14 should be considered, they are not willing to pay a high price. It has to be right for business and it has to be right for the economy.

“Many of our members, including the major logistics operators across the county tell us on a regular basis how congestion on the A14 has a major negative effect on their business.”