Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the leaders of all seven metropolitan authorities today (Friday June 29) called on the owners of the M6toll motorway to reconsider a planned hike in charges for both motorists and hauliers.
In a joint letter to Midlands Express Ltd (MEL), they said the price increases flew in the face of the region’s efforts to improve air quality and manage congestion.
The Mayor and leaders warned the rise in charges, due to come into effect on July 30, risked driving traffic off the toll road and back onto the congested M6 which runs through the region’s urban heartland.
The letter says:
“We are extremely disappointed at the decision by Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL), operator of the M6toll, to increase charges, in particular for HGVs. This will do nothing to move more vans and heavy goods vehicles off the region’s other major roads and onto the M6toll.
This needs to happen if we are serious about improving air quality and managing congestion.
We are also surprised that MEL is proposing these increases at a time when a major public consultation on air quality, including the introduction of a clean air zone in Birmingham, is about to begin.
Given the challenges we face around clean air we would expect all parties to play their part in tackling this major health issue.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and Highways England have worked tirelessly with MEL over the last 12 months to make better use of the M6toll as part of the region’s wider road network. Actions include improved signage and other measures to encourage more long distance traffic, especially HGVs, off the M6 and onto the M6toll.
This price increase could push traffic back on to the M6 which will only result in poorer air quality.
We trust that MEL will reconsider these price increases and work with us on improving air quality and managing congestion, two of the biggest challenges this region faces.”
The letter has been signed by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Roger Lawrence, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council, Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, Cllr Steve Eling, leader of Sandwell Council, Cllr Bob Sleigh, Deputy Mayor of the West Midlands and leader of Solihull Council and Cllr Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council.