JUST over a year since tolls were scrapped on the two Severn bridges, the Welsh Government has said drivers are saving an average of £365,000 a day.

The charges on the two crossing were abolished on December 17, 2018 - and since then journeys into Wales from England over the Prince of Wales bridge have increased by 16 per cent, with an average of 39,000 vehicles using it every day.

At the time the UK Government, which was responsible for the tolls, said it hoped scrapping them, would make it easier to travel between the two countries, boosting business, enhancing investment, increasing tourism and creating jobs. But not everyone in Monmouthshire is happy about it.

Traffic congestion, air pollution, and a lack of infrastructure to cope with the levels of cars are some of the concerns that have arisen in the last year.

More than 39,000 cars head westbound on the M4 every day

Chris Parry, 52, who is from Cwmbran but now lives in Gloucestershire, raised concerns over house prices and traffic in Monmouthshire, saying: “Monmouthshire has been a dormitory area for Bristol and Gloucestershire for a long time, but now it’s going the other way too, which I think is bad news for house prices and traffic. I’ve got an office in Cardiff and Tewksbury and the M4 is a nightmare, especially in the mornings.

“But I do believe that overall it will be a good thing for people around Newport, because it will bring more jobs as more people are commuting and living here.”


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Rose White, 70, who has been a resident in Ringland for 59 years, said he doesn't agree that Newport and the surrounding areas have directly benefited from the tolls dropping, and said the state of the city concerns her.

“I thought it was a good thing initially because I used to often think to myself: ‘why should we have to pay tolls to just go to Bristol?’,” she said. “But since the tolls have been cancelled, I’ve not seen any impact on Newport. The shops are still shut and the streets are still quiet.

“I think it’s because people don’t actually travel here from England – they go to Cardiff instead. We’re just a pathway through and get all the traffic. I fear we left it too late to prepare ourselves for the traffic that comes through. We are desperate for a relief road to cut out the traffic on the Severn crossings.”

According to statistics provided by Highways England, an average of 39,255 vehicles per day used the M4 westbound service in 2019, which has increased from 33,806 in 2018. An average of 40,364 vehicles per day used the M4 eastbound service, which has increased from 37,056 in 2018.

Highways England also said that 25,000 vehicles a day used the older M48 crossing, with around 19,000 per day using that service in recent years.

Shane Meek, 37, who lives in Newport, says he would be in favour of having the tolls reinstated if it meant lower emissions and less congestion.

Mrs White said she hasn't seen any benefit in terms of people coming to Newport city centre

Mr Meek said: “I use public transport every morning and evening, but since the tolls have come down it seems more people have decided to stop using public transport and have started to drive across (the M4 or M48). It can’t go on like that forever.”

Following the UK Government’s abolition of the tolls, the Western Gateway partnership was launched last month to maximise the economic potential of South Wales and the south-west of England.

The aim of the partnership between universities and businesses either side of the Severn is that the Western Gateway will mirror the work of Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.

Monmouth MP David Davies, who was this week appointed to the Wales Office following last week's General Election, said: “Over the last year, drivers have reaped the benefits of free road travel into Wales which is paying dividends for businesses across both sides of the Severn.

"We are better connected economically as a result and through the Western Gateway initiative we will harness the joint strengths of these two regions while respecting our distinct identities and traditions.

Monmouthshire County Council council cabinet member for infrastructure and neighbourhood services Cllr Jane Pratt and Monmouth MP David Davies

“The UK Government is committed to boosting Wales’ transport infrastructure and connectivity which is central to ensuring we raise our game economically and boost our productivity.”

Monmouthshire council cabinet member for infrastructure and neighbourhood services Cllr Jane Pratt, said she believes the cancellation of the tolls has given Monmouthshire the potential to be more ambitious.

“I am working hard with Monmouthshire officers to develop plans with neighbouring English counties to deliver new road and public transport schemes around Chepstow and a new railway station at Severn Tunnel Junction," she said.

“The traffic on the M4 is going to increase by 35 percent over the next 30 years and we need investment now to enable Wales to be the vibrant economy with decent jobs for our residents for the future and a place where we attract global investment.”