Osborne wants us to pay to drive faster

George OsbrnePA

The government has a cunning plan to boost the economy. The only minor downside is that it could end up costing you a fortune.

George Osborne's latest wheeze is to introduce toll lanes alongside busy motorways and main roads. If you pay the toll you'll be able to escape the traffic jams, pull into the lane, and speed to your destination.

Building boom

The idea is that it's going to boost the economy by sparking a major building boom. Private companies will be tasked with building extra lanes - which they will be able to profit from through the tolls.

There will be cunning licence place recognition technology which will track any time you switch into the lane. Then you will be billed for every journey you use them for.

It will also theoretically get people to their destination faster, enabling us to squeeze yet more productivity into our day.

The roads under discussion include the M11, A1, M1, M6 and A14.

Against tolls

Of course, there's the minor issue that the government came out against the idea of road tolls in the past. It is hoping to swerve this particular issue by arguing that it is building new lanes to charge for, and therefore it is sticking with it's promise not to charge a toll on any existing roads.

It's a fairly fine line though, isn't it? And it's hard not to wonder whether this will be the start of the slippery slope, which will end up with tolls sneaking onto all major roads.

And while it may be a great way to stimulate a bit of economic activity, in the end it's not going to be entirely favourable for drivers. We will now be able to sit fuming in our cars just as we have always done - with the added irritation of watching wealthier drivers speed past.

And if we bite the bullet and pay for our journey then this is yet another expense which we have to find the cash for at a time when we really don't have anything spare to go around.

It's going to be part of a 'growth plan' the government is announcing, which will also include £400 million to build 16,000 new houses, and a scheme which will make it easier for first time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

So what do you think? Do you think this really is a cunning plan, or will we look back on this as the moment when outlandish toll charges began.
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