Businesses reject government plans over Dartford tolls

A SURVEY undertaken by Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) shows that nearly nine out of 10 local businesses reject Government plans to increase the tolls at the Dartford River Crossing half of users being delayed for more than 10 minutes when using the crossing.

Essex FSB Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “The Dartford River Crossing has a major impact on the economy of Essex as it is the main route for businesses travelling south.

“As preparation for the FSB’s response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on future plans for the crossing the FSB conducted a survey which attracted 590 replies from local businesses, not just FSB members.

“Of those replies 86 per cent  disagree with plans to increase tolls later this year with the main reason being the broken promise made by previous Governments that the tolls would be axed when the QEII Bridge was paid for which happened in 2003 (56%).

“Since then the Government has claimed the tolls remain to ease congestion but the facts show that the tolls plaza adds to congestion rather than easing it. The survey responses show that one in every two users face delays of more than 10 minutes on their most recent journey while only one in four say they did not face delays.

“That high level of delay is costing businesses money with almost one in four (23%) saying the delays cost them more than £1,000 as well as adding to pollution in the area. A further 25% say they face additional costs of £500 per year.

“The survey also showed that if tolls are to continue there is support for the removal of the tolls plaza and its replacement with automatic number plate recognition for tolls enforcement as already happens with the London Congestion Charge.

“Essex FSB will be submitting a response based on this survey data to the Department for Transport consultation before the deadline of Friday 23 September 2011.”

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