The news that the Labour in Wales government in Cardiff never even asked the Westminster Government about the Severn Bridge tolls should not really surprise anyone and will bring no comfort to Motorists travelling from England to Wales on the Severn bridges who (as of 01.01.2013) now pay £6.20 – up from £6 from 2012. The cost for vans and minibuses travelling west rose from £12.10 to £12.40 (2.5%), and from £18.10 to £18.60 (2.8%) for lorries and coaches.
Plaid Cymru submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Transport seeking details of any correspondence between it and the Welsh Government on the level of tolls since May 2011, the last Assembly elections. In its response the Department of Transport merely listed emails between the Highways Agency and the Welsh Government advising of planned increases in tolls for 2012 and 2013. The FOI request revealed that there was no other correspondence between the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government – so much for standing up for Wales!
Plaid Cymru Transport spokesperson Jonathan Edwards MP said: “The lack of complaints over the continued rise of the Severn Bridges tolls once again shows that the Welsh Government are crying crocodile tears when they complain about motorists’ rising costs.
“The tolls rise annually according to RPI inflation index under an Act of Parliament from 1992. This is higher than the CPI inflation which has now become the norm for inflation, such as pensions upratings – so it is not even the fairest form of inflation.
“While the UK Government have been happy to rip up parliamentary acts for S4C that operated on the same inflation increase basis, they aren’t willing to touch the Severn Bridges – and the Welsh Government haven’t even asked them to consider it.
“Other companies and investments have been forced to take the economic situation into account in recent years and many will tell you about the problems that the tolls cause them.
"But for south Wales motorists the tolls keep rising. I’m sure that neither the UK or Welsh Government have even considered entering into discussion with the private company who owns them to lower the tolls during these tough times.
"In a few years, though, the cost of the Severn Bridges’ construction will have been repaid and the bridges will come back into public ownership.
"Major decisions will have to be made about the Bridges’ future ownership – by the Welsh Government, the UK Government or some form of joint ownership and, depending on who holds the purse strings, the amount that motorists will pay in tolls in future.
"It is vital that the Welsh Government take a more proactive stance in supporting the Welsh economy."