Tory road pricing plans under fire

The FPB concerned about the effect on small businesses

Conservative plans to introduce road pricing have been attacked by a business lobby for the effect that it would have on small businesses.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is concerned that this could have a negative impact on road hauliers, and therefore could raise the input costs of manufacturers and affect other small firms too.

The Conservatives say they want to lower fuel duty but introduce road pricing, as a way to combat climate change.

Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling MP wants to introduce the charges for all hauliers on UK roads, as he believes this would ‘level the playing field’ between British hauliers and their foreign competitors.

However, the FPB say this could still place extra burdens on smaller businesses and could be difficult to implement.

Victoria Carson, FPB campaigns manager, says she would like to see transport policies that don’t unfairly penalise smaller businesses.

She said: “The lowering of fuel duty would be of benefit to those firms in the haulage industry that are already burdened by regulations and unfair competition from foreign competitors using cheaper fuel from abroad.

“The cost of road charging must be proportionate to the saving made from the cut in fuel duty, otherwise this will be just another burden on UK hauliers.

Tracy Hoather, who runs Sameday Plc a haulage company in Knutsford, Cheshire, said she was worried about the effect of the plans on her business.

She said: “The problem is that transport is the lifeblood of the nation and we all want the freedom and independence of our own vehicles.

“The Congestion Charge and tolls on bridges and roads are already costly and difficult to administer for the smaller hauliers without adding more rules and regulations.”

Network Rail has said recently it wants to take 12,000 lorries off UK roads, by moving more loads onto freight trains.

© Crimson Business Ltd 2006

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