The West Midlands could still be chosen to pilot a controversial road pricing scheme, the Department for Transport has insisted.

Officials are working closely with the region's local authorities on proposals which could mean a huge boost in funding for public transport, a spokesman said.

 As The Birmingham Post reported yesterday, the Government has ordered the region to rethink its plans, saying the proposed time-table for introducing road charges is unacceptable.

The West Midlands scheme, which could include charging motorists up to #5 a day, would be designed to test models of road pricing ready for a national launch.

Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said: "They would introduce a scheme that would lead to road pricing in 2014. But we are interested in going into a national road pricing scheme around 2015.

"So 2014 doesn't give us a lot of time to evaluate whether it will work.

"We have gone back to the West Midlands to ask if 2014 is as quickly as it can be done, because clearly it is going to have an impact on whether to go ahead with the West Midland scheme or not." Last night a spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "The West Midlands have not yet submitted a detailed plan or bid to the Transport Innovation Fund. The discussions the department have been having with the West Midlands have been positive and constructive and it is simply incorrect to say that a bid has been rejected.

"The West Midlands authorities are currently looking at options for addressing congestion including the role that road pricing could play. A congestion management study has been published which sets out their preliminary findings.

"The Department for Transport is working closely with the West Midlands as they take this process forward. This will include discussions on the timetable for implementing any such scheme, in order that it can usefully inform future decisions regarding a national road pricing scheme..

"Present estimates suggest a national road pricing scheme could be developed by the middle of the next decade."