THE new owner of the M6 Toll Road needs to make it work better for the West Midlands, according to its mayor.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the UK’s only ‘pay as you go’ motorway was not contributing was much as it could to the region.

After the M6 Toll was taken over by Australian pension fund IFM, he said there should be a new focus on the cost and said it needs to be used better to keep the West Midlands moving – particularly in times of emergency.

The deal is a major setback to those who have called for the road to be nationalised or opened up for free to ease wider traffic congestion which costs the region £2.2 billion a year.

Mr Street is keen to speak to both the Department for Transport and the new owners to strike a new deal which would make the road more readily available to regular traffic during a major crash or crisis, such as the closure of the M6 in February 2016 .

Andy Street

The Birmingham Mail understands that plans were actually made to lift the toll during last month’s Aston bomb emergency , but it was not needed.

Proposals include setting an hourly rate, rather than daily, for the tolls to be temporarily lifted during an emergency and for that decision to be taken by the West Midlands mayor or police and crime commissioner, rather than the Transport Secretary.

The Conservative mayor said that new ownership also offers the chance for another look at the role the motorway plays in the region’s economy.

“Most people would acknowledge that the M6 Toll Road, while providing an alternative route around the conurbation, does not contribute as much to the region as it could,” he said.

“The most obvious example is when emergencies occur, for example when the M6 is closed for extended periods of time. We need a much more robust and slick system that would enable us to use the road to help keep traffic moving around the region.

“This is not simply down to the operators and owners of the road, we also need to work closely with Government on this. I also believe that there is an opportunity to look at pricing policies, particularly around heavy goods vehicles.

The M6 Toll has been condemned for low driver numbers.
The M6 Toll has been condemned for low driver numbers.

“I look forward to working with the new owners and hope we can collaborate on strengthening the road’s value to the West Midlands transport network.”

The 27-mile toll road opened in December 2003 and was originally owned by Australian bank Macquarie before a group of 27 lenders bought the motorway in December 2013 and then put it up for sale at a price of around £1.9 billion.

Sources at IFM have confirmed the sale but the investment group has yet to make any public comment on the deal and no value has been placed on it.