New charges introduced on the M6 Toll road

M6 Toll booths

M6 Toll booths

Drivers using the M6 Toll in Lichfield and Burntwood are paying more from their journeys after price rises took effect.

Owners Midland Expressway have upped the cost of car using the road by 30p to £5, while lorry drivers face a charge of £10, up by 60p.

Tom Fanning, CEO of Midland Expressway Limited, said:

“The M6 Toll opened in late 2003, and still remains the most reliable route through the West Midlands. The announced 2010 tolling programme will allow further investment in delivering an excellent driving experience for the reliable journey on which our customers depend. The M6 Toll remains excellent value for money to avoid the congested M6.”

But the decision to raise the prices have been criticised by some who believe the M6 Toll is moving away from its original brief.

Walsall Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Shires said on his blog:

“The M6 Toll was originally given the title of Birmingham’s Northern Relief Road and was supposed to relieve pressure on the M6 as it winds its way through the Birmingham conurbation. It has never achieved its aims.

“It is fast becoming a private road for the rich. The latest price increase will drive more and more ordinary motorist and the few truck drivers onto alternative routes.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

22 Comments

  1. Steve

    1st March, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Crikey, Tom is talking some cobblers there isn’t he?
    Tolling Programme? Value for Money? Delivering an excellent driving experience?

    A fiver?

    I bet even he doesn’t believe anything he is saying here. It is only about profit, and these massive charges will only result in more congestions on the old M6 and surround roads.

  2. Dean Freeth

    1st March, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Tom Fanning…………thankyou for yet another automated message when the real reason for your price increase is due to lack of people using the M6 Toll as projected so you have upped the prices to make up for it.

    Ive used this road countless times since it was built and 1 was recently, it seems more empty…………and not to mention less staff on the toll stations. I wonder if Mr Fanning with all his economical wisdom can tell us how his version of supply and demand actually works.

  3. Brownhillsbob

    1st March, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Sad to see Lichfield Blog just chucking out MEL press releases without any kind of analysis. Should companies like this really be given unquestioning access to the new media like this?

    Sorry, chaps, but this is looking uncomfortably like an inky trade journal right now.

    Bob

  4. Andy

    1st March, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    The M6 toll had a big effect on my life. In ’94 I joined the Labour party off the back of the CJA, campaigned for them, canvassed during the ’97 election and was a very happy bunny when they won. Two years later I was out of the LP and up a tree in Weeford (remember their promises to halt the Tory road building programme and reapeal the CJA?).

    It’s just a shame that the there were people at Weeford employed by the police. And a few special brew crew, never useful to have around. Still, nice to see that MEL are now able to get their message out on “independant not for profit” news outlets. How times change.

  5. Ross

    1st March, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    It actually isn’t from a press release. The fact is that the prices have gone up today (hence we’re recording the facts) and this was the reason given by MEL. It’s down to the people above you to decide if it’s right or wrong. I’ve always said it wasn’t about us casting judgement – we’re crediting people with the intelligence to make up their own mind.

  6. Brownhillsbob

    1st March, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I would have thought that the news existed in the very matter that the rise was so controversial. The article above is anodyne, and with no balancing opinion looks like a PR puff sympathetic to MEL.

    In order to be non-judgmental, it would be better to encompass the whole story, not merely the corporate side.

    Some of these stories read like crash reports. Sorry, I’m rooting for you guys, but injecting some fire wouldn’t hurt.

    Best wishes

    Bob

  7. Ross

    1st March, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    But the balance has arrived in the shape of comments. Where time is available we’ll do the job and make phonecalls galore to strike the balance, but until someone decides to hand us a pot of gold they found at the end of a rainbow, we’re limited.

    The same could be said of virtually everything we do on here. Seems odd that this (which I threw together in five minutes after remembering the new charge started today) has got people so annoyed.

    I think the phrase is something about not shooting the messenger.

  8. Andy

    1st March, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Do you really need to phone someone or could you just give your opinion? You live in Lichfield, you’re writing on a site about Lichfield, have you only just moved here? Do you know nothing of the history of that road and the opposition to it? Because a comment like “Seems odd that this (which I threw together in five minutes after remembering the new charge started today) has got people so annoyed.” shows a crass ignorance of the situation which has almost nothing to do with the price rise.

    In case you do know nothing about Lichfield two of the biggest areas of contention are:

    1: Compulsory purchase was used to buy the land even though it is a private enterprise, not a publicly owned facility

    2: Road signs mainly the ones on the M42 which send people who want to go to Lichfield down the toll instead of the shorter perfectly servicable A446 (that’s the Lichfield road). And even more ludicrous people following signs for Burntwood from Wall island are sent down it.

  9. James

    1st March, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    It does seem odd that your report completely misses out mentioning the huge amount of controversy surrounding this issue in the press, such as the local MEP saying the price increase will result in more traffic on the old M6 (defeating the main purpose of the scheme), that the road haulage industry is up in arms at the increasing cost of freight transport etc.

    We could accept your argument about balance if you had already covered these issues via your tags but you haven’t and relying on comments to provide balance is an very dubious interpretation of what is good journalism. As it stands, the piece is one sided and misleading. There are plenty of reliably published sources around where you could get quotations from credible figures who would certainly say that the road is not value for money and has been a complete failure in addressing its original purpose. Perhaps a controversial subject like this requires a bit more than being thrown together in five minutes, or alternatively best just not mention it at all.

    Generally the Lichfield Blog is doing a terrific job for us but please don’t let your standards slip.

  10. Steve

    1st March, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I hope Ross and co are taking these comments in the spirit in which they are intended, and are not tempted to say “sod it, lets see you do better then”

  11. Ross

    1st March, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    @Andy – deep breaths please. “Do you really need to phone someone or could you just give your opinion?” Yes, because if I start commenting then it makes this site about my opinions – not the intention.

    And as for your two biggest areas of contention – Horses for courses old chap. I’ve lived in Lichfield district my entire life (but don’t let your assumptions get in the way of a good rant) and I certainly wouldn’t make them the biggest issues for me, but that’s not to say they aren’t for others. But given that time has a big influence on this site I can’t cover every single angle of every single story.

    I do think you may need to take a step back and look at what this site is. It’s run by good will of those who contribute. It may be very easy to throw stones, but try catching them and you’ll see it’s not fun when there’s no reward for it.

    @James – “mentioning the huge amount of controversy surrounding this issue in the press” – therefore it’s already been covered elsewhere. All this piece is doing is recording the fact it’s happened and offering a quote. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s no hidden agenda or missing of the point on our part. I just felt the fact was worth recording. There’s nothing in there that isn’t fact. I haven’t said it’s a good thing, nor have I said it’s a bad thing – that’s for the community around this site to comment on, not the messenger. Yes, we didn’t cover the issue before. But that could be down to a number of factors which I wouldn’t want to go via this method (but it’s worth remembering that we all have things outside of this site which demand our attention ahead of TLB).

    We try our best, we’re not perfect, but then neither are many other media who operate with an enormous budget compared to what we do (which is entirely voluntary). And most of the stuff you read on here is “thrown together in five minutes”, trust me! ;o)

    But thanks for your comments and we really will take notice and try to learn from what the likes of yourself and Bob have to say.

    @Steve – I’ve got thicker skin than that! I really do appreciate feedback on the site and generally take it in the nature it’s given. But given I’m less than part-time on here (can you work spare time hours?!), we’re never going to do a perfect job and please everyone. I’m also just surprised that this story as raised such a fuss – I could show you hundreds on here which would give grounds to the same complaints above, but have never raised a peep.

    Ultimately, TLB lives or dies on whether we’re enjoying what we’re doing and I am at the moment (and I think everyone else is too!).

    @All who read The Lichfield Blog – I apologise if this hasn’t been to what is perceived as our usual standards. I take it as a compliment that we’ve got ‘usual standards’ because it’s never something I’ve thought about – we just do what we do!

    But in truth I’m not wanting to hold us up as the keepers of quality journalism – what we’re trying to be is the sharers of local information (which in some cases bridges the gap to news).

    And a final point on this (and it’s not a dig or the like so please don’t take it as such). We’re always looking for people to ease the burden on the writing side of it, so anyone who fancies giving reporting a go really is welcome to. We might have to edit or tinker with a piece for legal reasons, but we’re happy to offer advice or feedback to anyone who might want to have a crack at a particular story. TLB was always intended to be a community run site, but it’s morphed into what it is today and unless the offers come forward to change that direction, it’ll be us or not I’m afraid!

    Anyway, Merry Christmas and all that. ;o)

  12. Ross

    1st March, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    And to prove we do try to listen, I’ve just updated this piece to include the other side of the row.

    Note to self: Never write about roads again!

  13. Andy

    1st March, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Firstly ROss I never said they were the two biggest areas of contention for Lichfield I said that they are two OF the biggest areas of contention for toll road, which should have been obvious as it was posted on an article about the road. But hey, don’t let what I actually wrote get in the way of a defensive reply to a post that was neither breathless nor a rant.

    As for cathcing stones, who’s throwing them? I think you need to be a little less defensive, erm, old chap.

    .

  14. Ross

    1st March, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    As I said, I’m not getting involved in a two-way – I’ll leave that to other sites. I tend to get defensive when assumptions are made. Anyway, we’ve added to the article so that’s the end of that for me.

  15. Andy

    1st March, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I look forward to the TLB article on the (soon to be repeated) consultation into the extension of the road to Manchester.

  16. BrownhillsBob

    1st March, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    To be fair, Ross, you’re being terribly oversensitive here.

    I’ve written for this blog (as it happens, on a transport issue), and as a fellow local blogger over at The Brownhils Blog, I feel the pain of how hard it is to split time between all the stuff one needs to do – including a job. I have sprung to the defence of this organ several times, and would do so again. It’s an interesting project that’s well presented and carries a great variety of stuff. I can understand how hard it must be for one chap to pull together on a daily basis.

    I stand by what I said – the original article was anodyne, and stood so far away from any of the controversy in the matter, that it was as if it had been beamed straight from MEL’s PR department. Sometimes, I think that in the drive for diverse content, TLB sometimes isn’t as in depth as perhaps it could be – maybe it might be better to cover less stuff to a greater extent?

    Further, I’d tenure that expecting comments to provide balance is misguided. I can think of several issues here where the reader comments have provided far less than a balanced overview of the situation at hand. In fact, I’d go as to far as to say that you’ve been shocked by the pack nature of comments to this blog on more than one occasion.

    When it comes down to brass tacks, this is a growing brand with an identifiable voice that you have here. Many, many people such as myself, read it daily. Sometimes, coverage of issues is excellent, most of the times it’s really good, and a few times it dips below the bar. I’d like to think that on the occasions that it does dip, that the readership should be able to critique it without you feeling too victimised. I’m sure that the vast majority of us are attempting to be constructive.

    Some issues – like this one – hold tremendous amounts of hidden feeling. Like many, I watched swathes of countryside ripped up for this white-elephantine project, and therefore feel strongly about it. If you don’t acknowledge that in the article, it’s probably not the best idea to quote the guy from MEL, but just the bare facts. You neglect a balanced view at your peril.

    Best wishes

    Bob

  17. Phil

    1st March, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Guys, I can understand how you feel about this article – if I understand correctly you’d appreciate more back story. Something that explains and reflects upon why this is an important issue to Lichfield – that’s not really opinion, but just back story. It’s not something we really have the time to do at the moment (and when I say we, please understand that the vast majority of the articles – over 80% in fact – are written by Ross). It’s something we’re aware of though, and most of the time we only know where we’re falling down when you provide feedback such as you have here. So thank you for that, and please continue. In fact you can always e-mail us personally. And to alleviate some of the load on Ross I’d be very open to you e-mailing me (phil@thelichfieldblog.co.uk).

    Because of the amount of time and effort that Ross pours in I can understand why he might feel put out by negative feedback – we’re only human – but we’ll still take note. As has already been said we aim to be a community-run site. This means that we hope you consider it something you can be involved in and influence, within the values that we established for the site (and this will be given more definition soon). That includes writing for the blog. If any of you want to contribute in any way, let me know and we’ll get you set up.

  18. Unconcerned Citizen

    2nd March, 2010 at 3:53 am

    To be fair to the lichfield blog team – some of us write so many comments we could knock up the odd article.

    I helped build the protest camp at Weeford. Whilst there i learnt a lot – including that some vegetarians would eat road kill.

    Anyhow – Regarding Some of the comments regarding the pricing of the toll…
    The price is based upon a balance between maximising profits and minimising maintenance (too much traffic = too much maintenance).
    Congestion wears out road surfaces (due to vehicles braking).
    This is why the M6 is in a constant state of repair.

    Lorry drivers are on typically over a tenner an hour – you don’t want him sat on the M6 for an extra 3 hours.
    Time is money for many businesses.. especially salse men.
    I would say ithe M6 represents value for money if you use its whole length during peak times .
    However – us in Lichfield are smack bang in the middle of it.

    Half a go on the roller coaster – only £5. But plenty from Lichfield use it still.

    With our high fuel tax and road licence fees – the thought of a toll road is rather sickening.

  19. Asellus aquaticus

    2nd March, 2010 at 10:12 am

    At the risk of perpetuating the discussion about the Lichfield Blog’s role in all this – I thought I’d throw my tuppenceworth in.

    Since the restricted distribution of the Lichfield Mercury and the fall of the Lichfield Post, the Blog has become my main source of information about local news. The fact that it is a blog allows and invites people to pass comment, and that makes it all the more interesting, especially when a bit of a debate gets going.

    But that doesn’t mean that the item has to be written from a political perspective. Much as I admire and enjoy the vast majority of Bob’s comments, I don’t agree that the initial report seemed biased, well it didn’t read that way to me anyway. It was just short.

    Some of the comments urging a more “balanced” viewpoint actually seem to be urging Ross or Phil to present the article as an implicit condemnation of the toll rise. I don’t think that’s up to the Blog – if I want biased news reporting I can easily find it elsewhere. And Interesting though the history of the compulsory purchase orders and Swampy and his mates were, that sort of stuff is better suited to a more reflective blog (like Bob’s), but not for a news blog on limited resources.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  20. Andy

    2nd March, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    At the risk of upsetting people, which isn’t my intention I’m going to post this.

    The orignal article was a simple factual piece with a quote from the MEL CEO bolted on which gave the impression to me and to Bob that it was by definition biased. Ross could have written a far more balanced articel far more quickly, I’ll write it now. The M6 toll charges have risen from x to y. That’s factual reporting. Letting, or even just giving for the sake of padding out the content MEL a platform added nothing to any readers knowledge of the situation, it was pure corportate spin that benefited no one but MEL.

    This is hardly a crime, and in most cases it wouldn’t raise as much as an eyevbrow but that road has been a contentious issue for more than 4 decades (it really was in the planning stage for that long). Despite Asellus’s comment to the contrary it did provoke active protest from many loal people at Weeford, it wasn’t simply a cause for eco protest tourists like swampy, I know I was one of them. I’m local have been all my life. Just for the record the building of the road put £25k on the price of my house and I was sent a nice compensation cheque for the inconvenience casued by the construction (my house went from being on a main road into Burntwood from Charringtons ligths on the A5 to being 50ft from the main road and in a cul de sac, I’m sure BrownhillsBob will know where I’m talking about).

    So any idea that people might have that I’m some kind of tree hugging hippy living in a bus is very wrong. I’m not policitcally active in any sense of the world but I know right from wrong.

    I think Phil is right in his post, the article needed a back story which it could have had and still have been balanced and not politically biased.

  21. Asellus aquaticus

    3rd March, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Fair enough. Although when feelings run so high about a subject (as they clearly do here), I’m not that it’s ever going to be simple to produce an article that everybody will agree is unbalanced unless such extreme brevity as you give as an example is used.

    Just for the record however, I did not mean to suggest that the building of the M6 toll was only of importance and concern to eco protest tourists. I know it was a momentous issue for local people at the time, and clearly it still is, and I apologise if that’s the impression I gave. But still, even for your backstory, there’s probably another backstory…

  22. Sabcat

    3rd March, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    There’s no way anyone could write anything about the troll road that would make people like it. Some people are bitter about the destruction of the country side it went through some people are bitter that it’s the wrong road in the wrong place and some people are bitter about the £350+million PFI profit that was made when it was re-financed in 2006. That’s our money taken by a private company as profit for building a road that we didn’t want and does us no good. Some people are bitter about all of those things and more.

    The quote from Tom Fanning is good, you just have to read it right and have a memory. When he says “The M6 Toll remains excellent value for money to avoid the congested M6.” you have it there from the CEO that the road which was built to releive congestion from the M6 has failed, it’s still congested. We thank you for your honest admission Tom, good egg.

    I reckon everyone should cut Ross some slack, the story he has written has got a lot of comments all of them against the road one way or another. Whatever this is it aint pr for the road.