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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Road charges backed by businesses
The majority of businesses in the West Midlands are in favour of charging motorists to use roads if it eases congestion, a survey has revealed.

The Confederation of West Midlands Chambers of Commerce's study showed 57% of firms agreed with road pricing.

Nine out of every 10 businesses say clogged roads cause them a problem, according to the chamber.

It is staging a debate on Thursday with delegates from Birmingham City Council and the regional development agency.

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry policy director Jerry Blackett said congestion costs businesses 27,000, equating to 15bn nationally.

Strong leadership needed

"Just 17% are totally against road pricing in principle," he said.

He will tell the Lunar Society Debate the charges could depend on the type of road and vehicle, the time and day of the week, be within a cordon, as in London, or based on distance travelled.

"Before any decision is made it is absolutely vital to prepare the public transport infrastructure," he said.

"We also need to consider the sustainability of town centres because the more expensive we make them, the less attractive they become as places to live and work in."

But he said any move towards road pricing would be unwelcome to some and needed strong political and business leadership.

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