Councils in the West Midlands have failed to come to any agreement on the prospect of a road pricing scheme for the region and, according to today’s newspapers (Express & Star, 20th July), are set to miss their deadline.
Proposals have already cost £4 million to draft and look set to drain an additional £1.5 million from the public purse as the West Midlands asks the Department of Transport for more time. Councils need to agree on a road pricing plan in order to be granted more Government money for improvements to public transport.
This is quickly becoming a very expensive prospect for the West Midlands; taxpayers are funding the drafting of road pricing proposals and will be paying for the scheme to be put in place if the plans are given the go ahead, as well as paying for improvements to existing public transport (including long-debated extensions to the redundant Midland Metro) via the Government grant. Then when all this is completed they also have the option of paying to use the region’s roads (roads they paid for) or paying to use the revamped public transport system.
All this, and no real prove that it will ease congestion in the area enough to have any significant effect...
Let’s hope that encouraging remarks made last week by Councillor David Caunt, questioning whether road pricing is actually a viable option unless nationally uniformed, are heeded by his fellow councillors who should look to improving the existing infrastructure in the area before investing in expensive and short-sighted schemes like this.