No A14 Toll

Monday, September 9th, 2013. 1:01pm

Cover of consultation document; title, Highways Agency Logo, abstract picture of a road. I’ve just sent the following letter to the Cambridge News for them to consider it for their letters page:

I am appalled to see the Government consultation on proposals for the A14 specifically excludes the question of if the road is to be a toll road or not. The consultation document declares tolling is “essential” and only invites comments on how tolling might operate.

Clearly the question of if the A14 ought be tolled is one people have views on; so in an attempt to address this omission from the consultation I have started a petition on the Government’s e-petitions website.

The petition is titled: “No Toll for Cars on the A14″, it can be found at:

Richard Taylor

The non-shortened URL for the petition is:

This is the first time I’ve ever signed a petition, never mind tried to start one.

My view is improvements to the A14 are desperately needed, to save lives, prevent injury and to ensure the Greater Cambridge area can function and realise the economic and other benefits it has the potential to contribute to the country and beyond.

I oppose tolling on the grounds of restricting freedom to travel, increased monitoring of who is travelling where, and the fact tolls are a tax which hit the poorest hardest. I

I think the new road should be funded from general taxation.

See Also

11 comments/updates on “No A14 Toll

  1. anadapter

    I’d sign it if you’d asked for the government to include the question of whether to toll these roads in their consultation. I think it’s unhelpful of the government to wriggle out of asking that question.

  2. David

    It’s a shame there is so much political opposition to road pricing schemes because it’s surely a better way of covering the costs of roads than taxing cars and petrol. You only have to look at what happens during school holidays to realise that you only need to cut traffic by about 5%-10% to make the difference between gridlock and traffic flowing freely. If rush hour tolls persuaded a relatively small proportion of people to use public transport or travel at a different time then congestion would be substantially reduced almost everywhere. As it is, people on their way to work get stuck behind pensioners taking their dogs out for a walk!

    I find it hard to agree with your comment about tolls hitting the poorest hardest because surely the very poorest people don’t have cars! Or to put it another way, if people can afford depreciation, road tax, MOTs, petrol, etc. then they’re not as poor as they think they are. I’d also add that in a capitalist society it makes a lot of sense to price a scarce commodity like rush hour road space so that it generates the most economic benefit. This concept already applies to other forms of transport like train and plane tickets, as well as to just about everything else, even good quality healthcare and education. Driving has been priced more crudely up until now due to the limitations of technology.

    The government can already find out where I am because I carry a mobile phone. I understand the privacy concerns but I suspect most people not committing crimes would be happy about the additional information available to the police.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      I think in Cambridge it’s the rich who can afford taxis and those who are less well off who rely on cars; particularly for things like transporting elderly relatives.

      I think we are increasingly collecting information on where people are. I think what we need are proper safeguards for accessing that information. Searching my house requires a court warrant; I think finding out where I’ve been ought too.

  3. ABD Cambridge

    The two petitions below address the A14 tolls issue, along with the road scheme itself.

    There was no problem saying NO TOLLS in the consultation – see below, esp Q11

    Support the new road, but must keep the old A14.
    The imposition of tolls will severely damage the achieving of these objectives.
    The destruction of the existing bypass road will also damage the achieving of these objectives.
    The existing bypass road should be retained:
    A – to provide an alternative route when the new road is disrupted by an incident;
    B – to provide additional capacity for future growth;
    C – to maintain a direct and shorter route from the A14 to the A1 northwards
    D – to allow traffic from / to Stukelies, Brampton + Godmanchester to bypass Huntingdon, rather than be forced through it or on long diversions.

    Q4 – Anything else you would like to say?
    The imposition of tolls would undermine and negate the achievement of most of these objectives.
    It would create a highly negative legacy.
    Demolishing the current bypass viaduct would seriously damage, not benefit the local road network.
    The new road would deliver many benefits, so long as it remains untolled and the old road is maintained -for reasons already given.
    Widening of the A1 would be a benefit, necessary if the existing bypass is removed, but possibly not needed or not needed now if the existing bypass road is retained.
    The proposed new junctions would be desirable, however the A1198 needs a full junction.

    Q5 * Anything else you would like to say?
    Support most of the above, but not closure of access to A14 at Dry Drayton.
    This would impact adversely on access to the A14 for local villages. It would mean driving further and taking longer.
    The Dry Drayton junction also provides for U-turn manouvres.
    It is wrong to close off junctions that might be very useful when an incident occurs – one big problem is releasing trapped traffic.
    Where is the detail of “Improving local junctions at Swavesey and Bar Hill”?

    Welcome the free-flow movements proposed.
    Oppose loss of egress from A14 to local villages, exacerbated by Dry Drayton closure proposal.
    Instead provide access both ways, ie to and from A14 NW and to and from A14 ebd – easy enough with minor reconfiguration of slip roads + new junctions on new minor road..
    Currently plans only allow ON to A14 NW bound.

    Q11 – Anything else you would like to say?
    No sensible reason is given for imposing tolls.
    No reason is given for the proposed times.
    It is dishonest to suggest that “modern tolling technology that allows tolls to be levied electronically”.
    In fact and instead drivers will have to make payment at inconvenience, especially for those without card payment or internet payment options.
    Drivers already pay far more in driving taxes than is justified. There is no legitimate case for yet more taxes on driving.

    Q13 – 13. Is there anything else you would like to say?
    Build the roads with the changes described, save the money on ANPR cameras for enforcing tolls, and pay
    for the scheme out of fuel duty.
    This will actually increase the economic benefits of the new roads.

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    The offical announcment is at: (Press release) (PDF, National Infrastructure Plan)

    The press release says:

    …confirm that there will be no tolling on the planned A14 scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon, construction of which is planned to start in 2016

    the plan states:

    The government will also build on the funding announcements announced at Spending Round 2013 by
    … confirming that there will be no tolling on the planned A14 scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon ,construction of which is planned to start in 2016, which is one of the government’s Top 40 priority investments; it has listened to concerns from local residents and businesses who rely on this road and, following a consultation,
    has decided to take forward a scheme which does not include a tolling element

    It is odd to describe the decision not to toll as “building on” the announcement that there would be a toll. The consultation referred to did not include the question of tolling or not. The Government is trying hard not to state it has changed its mind, but in doing so what it has written sounds wrong and doesn’t inspire confidence that it is communicating clearly and honestly.

    The manner of the communication is unimportant compared to the substance, which is great news for the Cambridge area.

    I think this is a smart investment by the government, which has the potential to pay the country back many times over.

  5. David

    One of the reasons given for cancelling the planned tolls was that charging for one specific road would be seen as unfair and might increase the public’s opposition to the possibility of general road pricing in the future.

    Let’s hope common sense and technology come together to solve this problem one day. The current system of always charging the same rate of tax on fuel – whether it’s used for off peak journeys in rural areas or taking children to city centre schools in rush hour – is also unfair, and economically barmy as well.

  6. Chris Hall

    I was not impressed with the original Video which did not show the village of Offord Cluny and left me concerned that the Highways Agency and politicians did not understand or know the area they are proposing to spoil, partcularly now we know that there will be a 12 metre high bridge over the river and railway line. The original Orange route was to the north of Offord Hill and would have meant less destruction of the Ouse Valley. However I am in favour of the proposal to widen the existing A14 rather than build a new road/bypass. I believe that very little has been done to advise residents on the noise and air pollution issues and that they will not be properly addressed.

    1. Hester

      ” I believe that very little has been done to advise residents on the noise and air pollution issues and that they will not be properly addressed.”

      I think that’s because the Highways Agency haven’t a clue, and care less.

      “I asked what effect the new road would have on air quality in Cambridge city.

      The Highways Agency said they didn’t know. The said they will set up monitoring stations along the route and if necessary mitigation measures will be used. I asked what mitigation measures would be used if air quality was poor, I got no answer. I asked this three times and they mumbled and fumbled. Eventually one mumbled something about ‘reducing traffic’, which seems odd as their estimates show up to a 20% increase in traffic. They think that a reduction in stop-start driving and an increase in speed from 20mph to 70mph will reduce pollution. They had no information or modelling available to prove this.

      I find it astonishing that the detailed engineering has been done and yet the effects of pollution on 150,000 people in Cambridge and area has not been considered. This is despite an estimated 250 people per year (1 in 20) in Cambridgeshire dying early due to air pollution according to the government’s own estimates. This is despite the EU preparing to fine the UK government for failing to meet air quality targets. Just a few weeks ago pollution at Orchard Park School monitoring station (adjacent to the A14 in north Cambridge) reach 10 out of 10, or Very High. Air pollution is a serious and increasing issue in the region but the Highways Agency don’t seem to care.”

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