Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) has today warned Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that selling the Dartford Crossing to help reduce the Government deficit must be done in a way which protects businesses that use it.
Essex FSB Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “The indications are that the Coalition Government will be continuing the policy of the previous Labour Government and are likely to sell the Dartford River Crossing as part of the package aimed at reducing the Government deficit.
“While Essex FSB appreciates that the deficit needs to be reduced rapidly and drastically that must not be done at the expense of businesses which generate economic wealth.
“The Dartford River crossing generates more than £40 million profit each year from the tolls but also generates immense amounts of frustration for motorists queuing to use the toll booths and around £21 million a year in lost time for businesses caught in those queues.
“Reports show that 45 per cent of the 150,000 vehicles which use the crossing each day are delayed for an average of nine minutes which adds up to 10,125 hours per day being lost which just using the minimum wage means a cost of £58.725 per day or £21,434,625 per year.
“Add to that the deterioration in air quality caused by vehicles caught in the traffic jams and it is easy to see why Essex FSB wants to see the toll barriers removed.
“We appreciate that in the current financial climate getting the Government to honour the promise to scrap the tolls when the QE II Bridge was paid for, a threshold crossed several years ago, is not going to happen but we hope that if George Osborne does decide to sell the Dartford Crossing to help him balance the books that that sale contract includes a requirement to remove the toll booths and start using modern technology to collect the tolls in the same way that the London Congestion Charge is collected.
“We will be asking Essex MPs to make this point to the Chancellor and hope he will adopt this suggestion to save businesses time and money, save motorists frustration and save Dartford and Thurrock residents from poor air quality.”