A DIRECTOR of a Caldicot-based haulage firm said he was "very much in favour" of the Liberal Democrats’ pledge to axe the Severn Bridge tolls if they are elected in the next Parliament.
The Severn Crossings, which are currently managed privately, are forecast to transfer to public ownership in 2018 and the Lib Dems announced on Monday if they are re-elected to government, they would scrap any charges after next year’s general election.
Simon Hicks, of Hicks Logistics, said he agreed with the proposal and added: “We have got approximately 50 vehicles running in and out of the South Wales area – it is nearly £1,000 a day we are spending on the tolls, which is a massive amount of money.”
And the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said although they were in favour of an end to the tolls which “would give a boost to the South Wales economy”, they were cautious of where money lost on the tolls could be recouped in other areas, like fuel duty.
The RHA’s chief executive Geoff Dunning said: “We would not want to see this turn into a case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. If the Lib Dems abolish the tolls there can be no instance whereby the subsequent financial loss is recouped in other areas.”
The pledge was met with a mixed response by opposition parties.
Monmouth’s Conservative MP David Davies said he supported the proposals and was keen for his own party to come up with a similar “concrete proposal”.
He said: “I welcome (the proposals). I hope it is something they insist on if they are in coalition with the other two main parties. It puts pressure on the other two parties to come up with something.”
But Labour’s Newport East MP Jessica Morden said she wanted to see more detail from the party.
Ms Morden said: “We all want to see the tolls come down for those who live and work locally, but unless the Lib Dems can say how they’re going to pay for this – including the maintenance costs - it’s yet another one of their pledges that’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
“There has been a lack of any positive response from their Ministers during the numerous debates I have instigated over the years, asking for help with tolls for people now.”
The Lib Dems will include the proposal in their Pre-Manifesto, which will be published in September.
At present it costs £6.40 for a car to cross the bridge, £12.80 for a van and £19.20 for a coach.