The Humber Bridge is to become Britain's most expensive crossing, after an application to increase tolls by 11% was approved by the Con Dem government. The price rise was given the go ahead by the Department for Transport (DfT), but some local businesses and residents have voiced concerns about the move.
The Humber Bridge Board had applied to the DfT to raise tolls by 11% from £2.70 to £3 per crossing to pay back its £330 million debt. Approval was given after the planning inspectorate recommended the rise following a three-day public inquiry earlier this year. A public inquiry and consultation about increasing bridge tolls - how novel?
There was consistent and persistent bleating from Westminster Labour sheep between 1997 and 2010 along the lines of there is nothing we can do to reduce or stabilise the tolls! It turns that this is or was not quite true as the last New Labour Government actively intervened in October 2009 in relation to the Humber Bridge. Perhaps New / Old [delete as applicable] Labour in Wales hoped that we would not notice?
Sadiq Khan, the then New Labour Minister of Transport, announced a grant of £6m to the Humber Bridge company, saying that, “the Government was committed to doing everything it can to protect communities and businesses from economic downturn and help the country to recover. That is why I decided not to accept the Humber Bridge board’s proposed toll increases”. Very nice if you can get it I must say - but if that was the case in England, then why not in Wales?
The Con Dems no doubt firmly believe in applying the rigours of 'free market' so obviously there will be no intervention to subsidise or stabilise bridge toll prices this time. Just for the record the SNP Scottish Government abolished the remaining Scottish bridge tolls with the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Act 2008 which came into effect on 11th February 2008... if only?