The vice chairman of the Shadow West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has written to the transport secretary suggesting a partnership to take over the M6 toll road.
Cllr Darren Cooper, leader of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, told Transport Network he had written to Patrick McLoughlin seeking a solution to the issue of congestion in the region.
Chancellor George Osborne has called the West Midlands an ‘engine for growth’ but congestion is estimated to cost the local economy £1bn annually.
The M6 Toll road
Earlier this month the government said it would set up a working group to tackle the issue.
The toll road has been criticised for not taking enough traffic off the main M6 motorway. Last week its owners put it up for sale with a reported price tag of £2bn.
Mr Cooper told Transport Network that the combined authority couldn’t afford this by itself, even with government help. But he has asked Mr McLoughlin for a meeting to discuss the practicality of a partnership that might involve the WMCA, government, businesses and pension funds.
He said: ‘There’s got to be something we can do as a country. When there is an incident, the whole system grinds to a halt. But when this happened last week, the toll road was virtually empty.’
He added: ‘The problem with the M6 toll road is the cost. My own personal view is that I don’t agree with toll roads. We pay car tax.’
Mr Cooper said one option was to reduce the tolls to zero during an emergency, such as a major incident on the M6.
Mr McLoughlin has said he is ‘more than happy’ to look at this suggestion.
As part of its devolution plans the WMCA has previously suggested making the road free for HGVs, at an estimated annual cost of £15m a year.
Mr Cooper told Transport Network he has not yet had a reply to his letter.