Following the incident at the end of last year when a Staffordshire
ambulance was held up for several minutes at a toll booth on the M6 (see
news release of 2nd December), the Minister
for Transport, David Jamieson, has told Michael Fabricant that emergency
vehicles are exempt from toll charges and should not have been held up.
He said: "Under the statutory Order governing tolling at the M6 toll
road (The Birmingham Northern Relief Road Toll Order 1998 (SI
1998/124)), police vehicles, fire engines and ambulances are exempt from
"The M6 toll road concessionaire, Midland Expressway Limited (MEL), has
primary responsibility for the operation of the M6 toll road during the
lifetime of the concession agreement. Therefore, it is for MEL to ensure
that adequate procedures are in place so that emergency vehicles are not
unduly hindered when using the toll road.
"As regards the Government’s policy towards the charging of emergency
vehicles for using other toll roads, this generally depends on the
legislation governing the tolled undertaking. However, in the
consultation paper "Breaking the logjam", published in March 1999, about
giving local authorities powers to bring in road user charging schemes,
the Government stated that it ". . . does not consider it to be
appropriate to charge vehicles used by the emergency services . . .".".
Michael Fabricant says: "I welcome this clarification of the law. The
operators of the M6 Toll road should have been aware of this. They had
no right to hold up a Staffordshire Ambulance vehicle and the law
clearly states that it is irrelevant whether they are on an emergency
call or not.
"It is a disgrace that the ambulance finally had to use its emergency
blue light before the vehicle was allowed through and then later claim
that that they could not recognise the vehicle as being an ambulance
even though it was clearly marked as such. I hope that the management
of the M6 Toll will now issue clear instructions to the toll booth
operatives. Lives could be put in danger if emergency vehicles are
delayed in future" Michael adds.