The Welsh Assembly Government’s lack of understanding of the unfair burden imposed on companies doing business in Wales caused by the Severn Tolls beggars belief, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said today (15 December 2009). Despite constant and longstanding industry calls highlighting the problem, which has landed many companies with bills in the tens of thousands, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has done nothing to intervene on their behalf, according to his response to questions from LibDem Assembly Member Jenny Randerson.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Policy Manager for Wales, said:
"The Deputy First Minister has clearly failed to listen to industry, which is suffering under the weight of this toll. We are very disappointed that the disproportionate cost burden imposed on companies doing business in Wales is not on the Assembly Government’s political radar, more so at this time of recession."
The tolls on the Severn are the highest in the UK and are set to rise again in January, upon an order from the Secretary of State in line with the Severn Bridges Act 1992.
"The WAG’s apparent apathy over this issue is at odds with what should be their main concern; building an economically strong Wales."
In October, announcing a grant of £6m to the Humber Bridge company, Sadiq Khan, the Minister of Transport, said that "the Government was committed to doing everything it can to protect communities and businesses from economic downturn and help the country recover. That is why I decided not to accept the Humber Bridge board’s proposed toll increases."
Denise Lovering, of Glenside Commercials Ltd, a company which, in the course of its business, employs mobile engineers that cross the Severn Bridge on a regular basis, said:
"The recession does not discriminate by region and neither should the Government. A rethink is needed if we are to avoid unfair penalising of those that chose to do business in Wales."