* indicates required

We are ready for road pricing, say firms

Business in Britain is at breaking point, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce. The road network is essential to 82 per cent of businesses, yet 84pc say that traffic delays affects their business.

Companies in Bedfordshire also endorse the principle of road pricing, with the caveat that the government either cuts the levels of both fuel duty and road tax or uses the revenue raised for improvements to the UK’s beleaguered transport system. Road tolls would raise around £28 billion for the Treasury, according to a report by former British Airways chief executive Sir Rod Eddington.

Cheryl Smart (pictured), director of corporate services at Bedfordshire and Luton business representative the Chamber, said: “Congestion has reached such a level in the UK that business is willing to consider road pricing, something unthinkable just a short while ago.”

Volume of traffic, roadworks and poor road design and planning are major causes of congestion, the survey concluded. The average added cost a year to a UK business due to UK transport infrastructure was £18,000.

Mrs Smart said: “These results should not be seen as an excuse to charge with one hand and still keep taking with the other. There must be a guarantee that the additional money raised be not just put into the general transport pot. It should be spent on improving the road network and public transport.”

The British Chambers of Commerce has repeated its call for a 30-year transport plan to provide strategic prioritisation of key projects and for regional transport boards to be set up jointly between the public and private sectors. Chamber chief executive Richard Lacy said: “There needs to be a more radical approach to develop our road infrastructure to ensure we are prepared for the transport challenges facing local businesses.”
Businesses in Bedfordshire and Luton would benefit from a local transport network developments such as the East Luton Corridor, the Bedford Western Bypass and the widening of the M1.

But these would only ease congestion based on current traffic volume and would not cope with anticipated future increases, Mr Lacy added.