Refusal by policy makers to tackle the problem of unreasonably high tolls levied to lorries crossing the River Severn has effectively handed businesses in Wales a massive bill for Christmas. Goods vehicles already pay more to use the Severn crossings than they do for tolls in other parts of the country, but despite this unfair penalty imposed on companies doing business in Wales neither the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) nor the Westminster government have intervened.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Policy Manager for Wales, said:
"Staggering ignorance from Westminster and a cynical lack of concern from the WAG for its own economy has left many businesses reeling. FTA members that use the crossing already rack up bills for many tens of thousands of pounds in a year, the extra ten pence per lorry fee may not seem a lot for the average motorist, but it will make a most unwelcome Christmas present for those companies struggling to stay afloat during the recession."
A disdain for business in Wales was revealed from the WAG itself when the Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones admitted last week he had done nothing to intervene on behalf of the businesses left to foot the bill, according to his response to questions from LibDem Assembly Member Jenny Randerson.
Similarly, FTA was disappointed by the clear lack of engagement with Severn Crossing toll charges from Whitehall when Sadiq Khan, the Minister of State for Transport, revealed he had not even discussed the issue with WAG Ministers. The revelation was made all the more incongruous by Khan’s support for freezing toll prices on the Humber Bridge.
"There is a staggering disregard for controlling tolls on this crucial commercial link into Wales and our efforts have been frustrated by bloody-minded reluctance from either the Severn River Crossing Plc or the Department for Transport to take ultimate responsibility.
"What makes this indifference to the commercial reality even harder to swallow is that the government has shown a commitment to help business by reducing tolls on the Humber Bridge. Our question is simple: why is this commitment not being extended to Wales?"