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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 10:03 GMT
'End Severn tolls' call
Toll
Toll charges are due to rise 10p to 4.60p in the new year
A campaign has been launched to try and abolish the toll for motorists coming into Wales over the River Severn.

The Campaign Against Severn Tolls (Cast) say prices have gone up too much, with car drivers being asked to pay 4.60 for the journey from next year.

However, it would require an Act of Parliament to bring about any change.

The tolls were initially brought in with the 1992 Act of Parliament, which decided the Second Severn crossing, costing 380m, would be funded by a private finance initiative, instead of through taxes.

But Cast founder John Warman, a businessman from Neath, south Wales, said Welsh businesses were being punished, and he is trying to get the support of hauliers and regular users of the bridge.

"My first step is to ask the company and the Department of Transport to reduce the charges, but my eventual long-term aim is to get rid of them altogether," he said.

"I think it is a grave injustice that is being done to everybody in Wales.

Successive Governments have considered it right that users should pay directly for the benefits they received
Department of Transport

"The cost of crossing this bridge back and forth - it adds up to a hefty bill for myself.

"I started to work out what it is costing businesses - the bill must be enormous."

Cast has estimated that the Second Crossing must have brought in 250m since it was opened, but the toll is likely to remain in place for several years.

Jim Clune, General Manager of the Severn River Crossing, said present estimates were that the concession would end in 2016.

"The revenue we have now collected since 1992, which is now getting on for 12 years, has gone some way towards paying off all of the costs which includes building the second crossing, financing it and operating and maintaining both crossings."

The Department of Transport added that tolling had been in place since 1966 and had "allowed the second crossing to be built sooner than might otherwise have been expected. "

A spokesman said "successive Governments have considered it right that users should pay directly for the benefits they received".

If you want to find out more about this issue, or take action on something in your community, visit the BBC's iCan website.


SEE ALSO:
Severn Crossing tolls rise
01 Jan 03  |  Wales
Bridge centre's closure threat
05 Oct 01  |  England



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