Members of the Freight Transport Association received the news made by the First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones that tolls would be retained on the Severn Bridge above that required to pay for the maintenance with disappointment. With many operators already spending tens of thousands of pounds goods vehicles operators view this unwelcome news which confirms Welsh Government plans post 2018 as a smack in the face for the sector and business as a whole in South Wales.
Ian Gallagher. FTA Policy Manager for Wales said: "Our members and commuters who have no realistic choice but to use the bridge will not be happy that they will be paying a charge on a piece of infrastructure which has already been paid for, and even if money is hypothecated for improvements around Newport it would be unfair that users should not be expected to pick up the bill. Governments in Cardiff and Westminster should take note of the recent report published by Arup into the impact of the tolls on the Welsh Economy which clearly showed that reducing the tolls could indirectly benefit the economy in South Wales to the tune of £107 million."
The Freight Transport Association is keen that First Minister quantifies his comment that seems to suggest that if there is any reduction it might not apply across all vehicle types.
Gallagher added: "It is imperative that Government do not view the bridges as a ‘cash cow’ but works with user groups to facilitate a fair system which does not ultimately penalise users and provides the stimulation which South Wales so desperately needs."
Reacting to the news that tolls will raise again in January Denise Lovering, Director at Glenside Commercials based in South Wales said; "We welcome the day that this agreement with the current concessionaire ends, these year on year increases are unwelcome on what are currently the most expensive bridges to cross in the United Kingdom, and shows quite clearly that future infrastructure agreements should be future proofed so that users do not suffer increase after increase, especially in times of austerity."