Crossing ther Severn Bridge is no cheap task with charges set at £19.20 for a coach or lorry. So, the news today that the Liberal Democrats will be proposing to abolish all Severn tolls – as part of their pre-manifesto released in September – will be music to hauliers ears!
More than 80,000 vehicles use the two crossings each day for commuting and business reasons.
For those transport companies who have to take the £19.20 hit each time, a political promise such as this could sway a few votes come general election time in May 2015.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales, said: “Scrapping the tolls would be a welcome shot in the arm for business and commuters who use the bridges daily. Scrapping them altogether would allow businesses to invest in the things that matter such as new vehicles and staff recruitment.”
The bridges, which are administered by Severn River Crossing Plc, are expected to revert back to public ownership in 2018. It is predicted that there is likely to be an outstanding amount of approximately £88 million on the bridges when that happens. Based on the current annual revenue, this should be paid through charges in two years and quite possibly during 2019.
Denise Lovering, Chair of FTA’s Welsh Freight Council, said: “The impact of the continued increase in the cost of the tolls on business, particularly transport and freight businesses, have been enormous and continue to be so. The tolls are a major factor in the lack of Regional Distribution Centres in Wales, and when you find out that the cost to some companies is in excess of £500,000 a year it doesn’t take much to understand what a boost to the economy the removal of the tolls would be. It would also signal that Wales is open for business and you don’t have to pay to come in.”
The Severn Bridge tolls are the most expensive in the UK. As well as the expensive £19.20 charge for coaches and lorries, there is a £12.80 charge for vans and a £6.40 charge for a car.
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