Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 15:54 UK

Legal action possible over tolls

Humber Bridge
The government said it wanted to protect businesses during the recession

Legal action may be taken to force a review of a decision not to increase tolls on the Humber Bridge, the bridge board has said.

In July the government said the tolls would remain at existing levels because of the current economic climate.

The board had planned a 20p increase to help pay off the bridge's £333m debt.

It has called for talks with Transport minister Sadiq Khan ahead of its meeting next month, when it will decide whether to take legal action.

A board spokesman said it wanted Mr Khan to "understand the financial implications for the board" of the decision.

The spokesman said: "The decision means the board faces a shortfall in budgeted income of £1.15m a year, leaving it at risk of being unable to fulfil its legal obligations to repay the bridge debt on schedule, by the end of next year."

Taxpayer 'burden'

The board said urgent negotiations over the repayment of the debt were needed with the government.

It said it would pursue legal action to force a review of the minister's decision "if necessary".

The spokesman said: "This will be decided at the next board meeting on 14 October.

A meeting between Mr Khan and local MPs has already been scheduled for November.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The government is doing everything it can to protect communities and businesses from the economic downturn, and to help the country recover.

"That's why we recently decided not to accept the Humber Bridge Board's proposed toll increase.

"In making this decision we took into account projections of income and traffic for the bridge. Based on these projections the board should still be able to repay the debt within the agreed timeframe without having to burden taxpayers."



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