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News of M6 toll sparks renewed calls for state ownership

The UK’s only pay-to-use motorway is being sold by a consortium of banks that took control from Midlands Expressway Ltd after a debt restructuring.

The 27-mile stretch of toll motorway opened in 2003 and currently costs £5.50 for a car to use during weekdays and £11 for commercial vehicles or coaches.

Jill Seymour, UKIP MEP for the West Midlands, is one of a number of politicians calling for the toll motorway to be nationalised, saying: “This is the perfect opportunity for the Government to step in and bring it into national control, making it free to use for all drivers.

“And before people start shouting about us being unable to afford such a huge sum of money in times of austerity, it pales into insignificance next to the eye-watering £55bn we are paying on HS2 – a project which will benefit far fewer commuters, and should be scrapped.

“Road users contribute some £50bn a year through a variety of taxes, yet only around £6bn is re-invested in the transport network.

“Why should we have to pay tolls on any of our busiest roads, tunnels or bridges? Charging to use these routes is adding insult to injury to the already over-burdened British driver.

“UKIP is opposed to this highway robbery. We want to block the introduction of any new toll roads, and work towards removing existing tolls from publicly owned roads.

“The sale of the M6 Toll gives us a perfect opportunity to put right a terrible wrong.”

Meanwhile, Tom Jeffries of business marketplace website Bizdaq has written a blog at the value of the investment and ultimately when the investors could expect to make their money back.

He commented: “The 27 banks that own the road have decided to sell the toll road as they think that the asset value is at it’s highest. 40 years remain on its 50-year contract for running the toll. The number of people using the road is the highest it’s ever been, so this does make sense.

According to the Financial Times, the EBITDA of the M6 Toll was £63m in 2014. In simple terms this figure is the annual earnings of the toll before tax, depreciation and amortisation.

“At that figure the investors could expect to make their investment back in 31 years at present market conditions. Yes that’s 31 years!

“While the toll has been making on average a £25m annual loss, the latest accounts may suggest that this is about to change. So the question remains; would you invest in such a monster?”

Natalie Middleton

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