Government ‘plans nationwide road tolls’

The Department for Transport (DfT) is seeking to create national toll roads across the UK, leaked documents revealed today.

Currently, toll roads are controlled by local authorities with ministers giving approval for local charging plans.

A letter obtained by the Sunday Times reveals that transport secretary Douglas Alexander will seek powers to create national toll roads in an effort to reduce congestion on the UK’s motorways.

Writing to leader of the Commons Jack Straw, Mr Alexander states that a national toll road scheme would prevent confusion for motorists driving through different cities.

Electronic tags on vehicles would be used to monitor their toll road usage and charge them on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“The main purpose of the bill would be to support our efforts to cut congestion and improve public transport particularly in the major cities outside London,” the minister writes.

“It would also help to pave the way for a national road-pricing scheme in the medium to long term.”

In the letter, dated July 20th, Mr Alexander recommends that current legislation be reformed to focus on the proposed national plan.

“Current legislation offers very limited powers for pricing on the trunk road network outside of the area of a local scheme,” he adds.

A spokesman from the DfT confirmed that the department was looking at a number of ways to reduce congestion on the road network.

Meanwhile the Sunday Times also claimed that it had obtained another letter in which Mr Straw outlined the 13 bills expected to be included on the Queen’s Speech in the autumn.

These addressed the digital switchover, free bus travel for pensioners, new powers for the London mayor, health and social security and organised crime issues.