Friday, 23 November 2012


No end in sight for Tolls!
The UK (Westminster) Government has announced (via a written answer in Westminster) that commuters and drivers using the Severn Crossings will get hit by an inflation-busting toll rise of 3.3%. From January 1st cars crossing the Severn bridges on the M4 and M48 crossings will pay £6.20 – up from £6 this year. Stephen Hammond, the Con Dem Transport minister also revealed that the charge for vans and minibuses crossing the bridges will rise from £12.10 to £12.40 (2.5%) and from £18.10 to £18.60 (2.8%) for lorries and coaches.

The new toll levels will be confirmed in an order made by the Secretary of State in December While the Westminster Government has been happy to subsidize the Humber Bridge, which had its tolls reduced by 50% nothing has been done to reduce the impact of tolls on commuters, motorists and small to medium sized businesses based in Wales. Whether we have a New Labour or a Conservative run Government it should be pretty clear that Wales or Welsh interests are unimportant.

Barely a year ago, a major cross-party report revealed that the Severn Crossings had a yearly income of £72 million pounds but running costs of just £15 million pounds. The Welsh Affairs committee recommended that with tolls as low as £1.50 for the bridge to be self-financing.  Meanwhile in Scotland, tolls on the Skye Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge have all been scrapped.

The new toll increase have been revealed less than a fortnight after Labour in Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones demanded talks to transfer control over the Severn Bridge tolls to the Welsh Government. The UK Government ignored the First Minister and publically stated that there would be no change to ownership agreements which will see control of the bridges and the lucrative income from the Severn crossings go back into UK Treasury. News that the First Minister has half an eye on the income from the tolls which might be used to improve the M4 (and maintain the crossings) will bring no comfort to commuters and businesses as it suggests that there will be no end to the tolls.

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