Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Prospective MP’s Clash Over Crossing Costs

In the Budget statement last week, chancellor Alastair Darling confirmed Labour’s intention to sell off the Dartford-Thurrock crossing.

Prospective Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price has made clear her opposition to the sell-off and renewed calls for the tolls to be scrapped. Historically, the tolls were levied to meet the costs of building the crossings with the promise that they would end once the costs had been met. The tolls have however continued and increased, with Labour justifying the move on the basis that the tolls are a congestion charge. Jackie said,

“Privatising the crossing means that the tolls will continue forever. This offers a poor deal to all road users and in particular to residents of Thurrock.

First Labour argued that the tolls were a congestion charge. Yet the tolls themselves are a cause of congestion on Thurrock’s roads. It surely cannot be argued that the tolls are a congestion charge when the monies raised won’t even go to the taxpayer.

Then they gave residents of Thurrock and Dartford a discounted rate for using the crossing. Don’t be fooled into thinking this was generous. Local users account for less than 3% of all crossings and in any case the introduction of the discount was matched by the withdrawal of a transport grant worth £1/2m a year. This money was used by Thurrock council to support local transport services and roads to the benefit of all residents, not just the crossing users.

Now they are selling off the crossing – so the toll revenue wont even go to public funds – it will go straight onto the pocket of whoever buys it.

We know the public finances are a mess, but flogging off the crossing surely cannot be the answer.

This was not the deal. We were promised that the tolls would be lifted. Now we find that they are to continue so that the Government can make a quick buck at the cost of permanent charges for users and continued congestion for local road users. I will continue to fight so that both the tolls and the sell are dropped.”

Carl Morris Labour’s PPC for Thurrock said:

“An intention to sell this crossing is one thing, but I believe it will never happen.

“What this has flushed out is the Tories deep resentment of Labour’s hard won local discount which has widespread popular support and saves regular users of the bridge up to £7.30 each week.

“The Tories don’t like our local people’s discount and would scrap it to give Thurrock Council another £½Million. But with this Tory Council’s track record nobody in their right mind would give this council any more money to be squandered on consultants.

“The Conservative Party has made no commitment to stop the sale of the bridge or scrap the tolls. So if we have a Tory Government, the sale would proceed, the tolls would remain but its likely our local discount would be scrapped.

“I’m determined to defend the interests in local people who ever forms the next government to protect the local discount”.

Lib-Dem PPC Carys Davis said: “Residents on both sides of the water are rightly disgusted that the Labour goverment have broken their promise.

“The crossing should have been free to use once costs had been paid. Instead, there’s a risk of toll hikes from the buyers.

“My priority will be to ensure local people still benefit from the Local Resident Scheme – this must be protected at all costs.

“It’s grossly unfair if local people end up paying the price of privatisation.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The Dartford Crossing should be free to all, this has been paid for over and over again, whne it was first opened the charge was made to pay for the contruction costs etc and then they were meant to be scrapped, but no, it was then seen as a cash cow for the government so the charge remained.

    The local Labour MP’s then took their time in getting the local residents discount in place, this was discussed years ago and only recently came into fruition and that was on the back of a local election hype so to be honest no political party can claim the moral high ground on the Dartford Bridge/Tunnel.

    The amount of congestion that is created by the barriers is evident to all who use the crossing the tail backs are a joke when trying to get across the thames only to find that the road at the end of the pay gates is moving swiftly, the sooner they tear down the barriers the better.

    Some may ask how we could continue to fund the crossing maintenance if the charge was dropped? isn’t that what we pay road tax and tax on fuel for, maybe it si time for which ever government gets in this time around to start using the taxes that are levied on motorists for the upkeep of the roads rather than in the general purse.

  2. Lambo once the crossings had been paid for the tolls continued to be collected for another year to build up a residual maintenance fund. So maintenance of the crossings comes out of this fund and not from the tolls.

    So if the tolls were scrapped the cost or repairs and maintenance would come from this fund and not the taxpayer.

  3. Labour may have let people down over this, but the 44% who want a hung parliament should be voting Labour in Thurrock or the Tories will have a Commons majority.  Only voting Labour can stop it there.  However, 100 seats higher up the Tory target list in Sth Basildon/E Thurrock the Tories must be backed to block another Labour majority.

  4. Everyone should be charged for using it including locals to pay directly towards the maintenance and the books should be published each year so it can be verified to be correct.
    Why should locals get it cheaper, I really dont understand that and I live local.
    I say give it to the private sector to run on a fixed term basis, retain ownership.

  5. Further point, I would be interested to hear from other parties including UKIP on this matter.
    I feel they will play an important part in the next election locally as I feel people want to see change. I think Mr Broad being local has a chance to win!
    Come on “Your Thurrock” why not get the whole lot together for an evening discussion at the Thameside or Civic Hall, as the leaders are doing but we can hear from them all on what they will do about locals issues.

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