Wales politics

Severn tolls: Scrap unfair bridge tax on Wales, MP says

Severn Bridge Image copyright Thinkstock

Calls for the Severn Bridge tolls to be scrapped have been made in the House of Commons as MPs debate their future.

The UK government is consulting on plans to cut the tolls by more than half to £3 for cars in 2018 after the bridges return to public ownership.

Labour MP Jessica Morden said the tolls were an "unfair tax" on commuters and businesses in her Newport East seat.

Transport Minister John Hayes said a balance should be struck on how much taxpayers or users paid for the upkeep.

Leading the debate on Tuesday, Ms Morden said: "The Severn crossing is a key link, the gateway to Wales, allowing access to markets in the UK.

"But the Severn toll is a tax on Welsh businesses and commuters."

Ms Morden claimed some of her constituents had turned down job offers in Bristol as "the cost of the toll is the equivalent of an hour's pay on the minimum wage".

Image caption The toll booths could be removed and replaced with a "smart charging" system

Ceredigion Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams claimed the tolls were an example of double taxation.

"The people of Wales already pay their taxes and that money goes towards things like the repairing of roads - so why should Wales have to pay twice?" he asked.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn said it was the "unanimous view of the assembly that the toll should be scrapped," and asked how the UK government reached the figure of £3 for the future toll.

Mr Hayes said the consultation was under way and the UK government "does not have any predestined conclusions".

He said the toll cut would be "welcomed widely" and he agreed with Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies that "a balance must be struck between how much the Exchequer contributes to the upkeep and how much the user contributes".

Mr Hayes said the £3 figure was "designed to reflect the cost of running the crossing - the operational cost, the running costs and the capital cost".

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