Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 19:51 UK

MPs propose toll-free trial week

Toll booths at Dartford Crossing
Discount proposals could allow Dartford residents to save up to 90%.

A toll at Dartford Crossing in Kent should be waived for a week to measure its effects, a group of MPs have said.

The group of Conservative MPs believe that a toll suspension would show lower congestion levels at the crossing.

The toll was to end in 2003, when the bridge and tunnel had been paid for, but was kept on by the Department for Transport (DfT) as a congestion charge.

The DfT said an independent report in 2001 showed that without charges, traffic would increase by 17.1%.

'Extra tax'

Dr Howard Stoate, Labour MP for Dartford said: "Most experts say that if you scrap the tolls there'd simply be an increase in traffic.

"This government isn't going to scrap them, and a future Conservative government wouldn't scrap them, but I've managed to get a very significant compromise which will help local people."

DfT proposals, currently under public consultation, would allow Dartford and Thurrock residents to save up to 90% on toll crossings.

The Conservative group, led by Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham, wants the proposed discount to be extended to residents in surrounding areas.

Mr Holloway said: "For local residents in Gravesham and other places the toll is effectively an extra tax, because they have to use the crossing to get to work."

'Frustration'

Dr Stoate said bringing in the measure is all the more important because of its effect on people living locally.

"They're the ones who are affected by it, therefore they're the ones who deserve to get the discount," he said.

John McGoldrick, of the National Alliance Against Tolls, said: "Drivers and businesses will applaud the initiative taken by Adam Holloway and his colleagues.

"Users of the Dartford Crossing know that the main effect of the tolls is to delay traffic - causing frustration, increasing vehicle emissions and the risk of accidents.

"If the Government really believe otherwise then they should accept the suggestion of a one week trial."

The public consultation finishes in May.




SEE ALSO
Locals given river toll discount
07 Feb 08 |  England
Most stress at Dartford crossing
08 Mar 04 |  England

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