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Monday, December 28, 2015

Unjustified increase in tolls underlines case for abolition

News that the tolls over the two Severn crossings will be increased again from Friday significantly dampened down Christmas spirit for many businesses.

Today's Western Mail reports that the cost of a car crossing the Severn estuary will rise by 10p t0 £6.60.  More damagingly for business, small goods vehicles and small buses will see their bill for a single crossing rise from £13.10 to £13.20, whilst heavy goods vehicles and buses will pay 20p more with the cost rising from £19.60 to £19.80.

As one campaigner points out, these increases will make the Severn tolls the most expensive toll bridges per mile in the world.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to have these tolls scrapped for some time. We are the only political party in the Senedd committed to abolishing them altogether. A Welsh Government report estimated that scrapping the Severn Bridge tolls would boost the South Wales economy by around £107 million a year.

That is a saving for the average commuter of around £1,536 a year.

The direct toll costs imposed on businesses are estimated to be around £47 million (excluding VAT in 2009 prices), with £34 million (including VAT) paid by consumers.

The annual cost of running the bridges is around £15m. The current operating costs are £12m a year and are made up of maintenance and toll collection, including toll collection infrastructure. Additionally, the Highways Agency spends an average of £3m on latent defects.

There are no toll roads or bridges in Northern Ireland, and there have been no toll bridges in Scotland since 2008, when the Scottish Parliament passed the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill.

The time has come to end this annual circus of price rises and scrap the tolls altogether. If you agree sign up to our campaign here.
Would George Osbourne agree this is a foot on the throat on the Welsh economy?
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