The news (Western Mail 1st June 2010) that the private company that operates the Severn Toll Bridges has raised almost £226m over the past three years – yet has spent barely £15m on essential maintenance on the original crossings damaged cables - should not come as much of a surprise to many people. The Severn Crossings Tolls have been a valuable cash cow for many years, aside from being a tax on jobs, a tax on commuters, a tax on growth and tax on business in the south of Wales.
Plaid Cymru's South Wales Central AM Chris Franks obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, which show a significant difference between the large amounts of money raised by Severn River Crossing plc from the toll, and the relatively small amount spent on treating the damage to the cables on the old crossing (M48).
Since 2006, some £15m has been spent on main cable work on the first Severn Crossing. The Highways Agency suggests that another £5.8m will take place over the next five years. Some £225,733,000 has been collected in bridge toll revenue since 2006. people may well wonder if they are going to get saddled with major work to maintain the bridges after the toll profits have been siphoned off by the concessionary company when the bridges are finally returned to public ownership in 2016.