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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Severn Bridge Tolls to go up again and still it is only the Lib Dems who want to scrap them

It was only a few days ago that the Welsh Assembly debated a Liberal Democrats motion to abolish the tolls on the Severn Bridge and now the Western Mail reports that the cost of entering Wales is to rise again:

The tolls cost just 12p when the first Severn bridge opened but have risen sharply in recent years and will be £1 more expensive than five years ago after January’s rise.

Heavy goods lorries will see tolls rise to just 40p shy of £20.

Severn River Crossing PLC said that tolls for cars and motor caravans will increase from £6.40 to £6.50 from New Years Day 2015.

On average, over 80,000 vehicles use the two Severn crossings on a daily basis. The tolls are estimated to cost businesses and commuters around £80 million per year, including value added tax.

The Welsh Government commissioned a report, on the economic impact that the tolls have on the Welsh economy. This was published back in 2010. With regards to business performance, the impact report stated that half of all businesses surveyed considered the crossings to be either important or very important to their business.

It has been estimated that a small number of businesses spend in excess of £200,000 per year on toll costs alone. In some cases, this could account for up to 10% of annual vehicle operating costs for a business, resulting in a significant negative impact on profits and performance for cross-Severn goods companies. South Wales can therefore be seen as a less attractive location for businesses of this type to invest in. Evidence of this can be seen by the fact that Tesco relocated one of its major depots from Magor in Monmouthshire to Avonmouth, citing the tolls as a major contributory factor to that decision.

In terms of  productivity, findings have shown that, by removing the tolls, the annual gross value added for south Wales could be boosted by approximately £107 million.

The case for abolishing the tolls altogether and charging the £15 million a year maintenance costs to the taxpayer in the same way as we pay for the rest of the road network is overwhelming. Why then are Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives intent on continuing to charge people to enter Wales? Only the Liberal Democrats are pledged to abolish these tolls.

Sign the perition to abolish the tolls here.
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