Cambridgeshire residents could be exempt from A14 toll, but foreigners must be made to pay up, council says

PIC BY GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY. PIC SHOWS THE DANGEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS ON THE A14 NEAR CAMBRIDGE AS THE STORM HIT EAST OF ENGLAND AT RUSH HOUR ON MONDAY MORNING

Giving Cambridgeshire residents and businesses a discount on the A14 toll must be considered, transport chiefs said.

The county council’s cabinet made the call today after being told the £1.5 billion upgrade, which will be partially funded by tolling, must solve the problems on the route between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Members followed South Cambridgeshire District Council in calling for locals to be fully or partially exempted from the toll, which is likely to be £1 or £1.50 for cars on the new Huntingdon bypass, and double that for lorries.

Cllr Ian Bates, the cabinet member for planning, said: “We need to explore that further as we go forward with the Highways Agency, about precisely how that might work and where does ‘local’ stop.”

Councillors also called for targets to be set for toll collection, including for foreign vehicles, to ensure they do no escape the charge.

In a report proposing the consultation response to the Government, executive transport director Alex Plant said: “There will need to be discussions about the long-term levels of charging and diversionary impacts on the A428 and on local roads through villages and market towns

“At this time, it is proposed that the need for tolls is noted and that the principle is reluctantly supported if it helps deliver the scheme but that certainty over scope and how the tolls will be set and increased in the future will be required.

“It is also considered that where the alternative route is signed, information should be given about the extra distance involved to encourage use of the strategic route.

“The potential for a local residents’ discount on the toll should be raised as is the case on the Dartford crossing. This should be available for locally registered cars and light vehicles which would also assist local businesses.

“It is most likely that a service company will be appointed to undertake the tolling and it would be appropriate that the service contract should include targets for toll collection including ones for foreign vehicles.”

Construction of the upgrade, which includes widening as well as the new upgrade, is expected to start in 2016.

Cllr John Reynolds, who represents Bar Hill, said the road must be a major improvement on the existing A14.

He told the meeting: “We have got to make sure this is not a repeat of the ‘road to hell’, it has to solve the problems.”

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