Plans by the UK Government to halve the Severn Bridge tolls when the bridges come back into public ownership are very welcome, but do not go far enough, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said.
Mr. Black believes that the tolls should be scrapped altogether once the bridges are transferred back to government control. He believes that having a tax on entry into Wales is hitting local businesses and undermining our economic growth.
“A Welsh Government report found that scrapping the Severn Bridge tolls would boost the South Wales economy by around £107 million a year,” said Mr. Black. “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 £47 million (excluding VAT in 2009 prices), with £34 million (including VAT) paid by consumers.
“The annual cost of running the bridges is around £15 million. The current operating costs are £12 million a year, made up of maintenance and toll collection. In addition the Highways Agency spends an average of £3 million a year on latent defects.
“There are no toll roads or toll bridges in Northern Ireland and there have been no toll bridges in Scotland since 2008. The cost of maintaining their bridges comes from the public purse in the same way as the rest of the UK road network.
“It is only right that Wales has the same benefit for our major artery into South Wales and I call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go the extra mile and abolish the tolls altogether from 2018.”