The Liberal Democrats are announcing today that the party would scrap the Severn Bridge tolls in the next Parliament.
The Severn Crossings are currently managed by a private concessionaire. The concession will end when a revenue target collected from tolls is reached. Current forecasts are that the concession will end in 2018. Once the tolls are transferred into public ownership and debts are repaid, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to scrap the tolls completely.
The manifesto commitment will come in the Liberal Democrats’ ‘Pre-Manifesto’, to be published in September.
The Severn Bridge tolls are the most expensive in the UK. It now costs £6.40 for a car to cross the bridge, £12.80 for a van, and £19.20 for a coach or lorry.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are delighted that we have secured this commitment. We are the only party that will completely scrap the unfair Severn Bridge tolls.
“This announcement will offer a huge boost to the Welsh economy and save the average commuter around £1,536 a year. It will help to build a strong economy and a fairer society.
“These tolls shouldn’t be used as a money-maker by either the Welsh or UK Government. Tolls are extremely rare in the UK, so I see no reason why people should be forced to pay to enter Wales.”
Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central and a member of the party’s ‘Manifesto Working Group’, said:
“These tolls are a genuine strain on local businesses in my constituency.
“By scrapping the tolls, the Liberal Democrats would be boosting the South Wales economy by around £107 million a year. This will help rebalance the economy and drive growth in what is traditionally a deprived region.
“In the forthcoming General Election, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to scrap these unfair tolls.”
The petition to scrap the tolls can be found here.
Scrapping the Severn Bridge tolls would boost the South Wales economy by around £107 million a year according to a Welsh Government report.
That is a saving for the average commuter of around £1,536 a year.
The direct toll costs imposed on businesses are roughly estimated to be £47m (excluding VAT in 2009 prices), with £34m (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.