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CBI Backs Road Tolls To Tackle Congestion

(c) Sky News 2012

Britain's leading business lobby group is calling for a shake-up of the transport network which would see roads privatised and more toll routes.

The measures should ease the burden of congested roads which currently cost the UK up to £8bn - but could rise to £22bn by 2025, the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) said.

To overcome the funding gaps in England's "creaking road network", the road budget should be taken away from the Government, the organisation proposed.

Drivers' motoring taxes would be converted into a so-called user charge, which would be controlled by an independent roads regulator.

But the CBI warned that in the long term this charge might not be enough, and private operators could supplement it with more tolls on England's motorways and major A roads.

The subsequent investment would help deal with a £10bn shortfall in funding for Highways Agency projects and a decline in motoring tax revenue due to more efficient cars, the CBI said.

The organisation's director general John Cridland said upgrading the country's road infrastructure is one of its highest priorities to get the economy moving again.

"Every day, people up and down the UK lose time and money because of our clogged-up roads," he said.

"With public spending checked, the case for new funding solutions is even more compelling, and the Government recognises this.

"It's clear we need a gear change in how we manage and pay for our road network in the 21st century.

"A lack of investment means we are really struggling to increase road capacity, let alone adequately maintain what we already have."

The report was welcomed by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond, who said there is currently a feasibility study to review new ownership and financing models for the road network being carried out.

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