THURROCK Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, has hit out at plans to increase charges at the Thames crossing at the same time as removing the toll booths.
Cllr Kent said: “Over the last year or so I thought the government was starting to listen to the sensible views we were putting forward – after all, they delayed making a decision on any new crossing until after the effect of free-flow tolls could be properly considered.
“But it seems they’re prepared to take a huge public relations hit by putting the charges up on the same day as they start removing the toll booths.
“None of us want to see any charges at the crossing, let alone increased ones, but putting up the charges on the same day as change traffic flows in both duirectionsseems nothing short of daft.”
He said: “Traffic going over the QEII Bridge should be OK from Monday, 1 December onwards as four of the booths are being removed on the Saturday and Sunday, so traffic should flow.
“But coming back to the borough is a different story altogether. The booths and the barriers will remain in place, queues will continue to build up, and chaos will ensue.
“Yet every one of those drivers waiting for the barrier to lift will be expected to pay more than they do at the moment. There will be a load of very unhappy drivers sitting in those queues and a load of angry businesses waiting for their goods to arrive.
“This isn’t good news for ordinary people using the crossing, but it’s dreadful news for businesses – and this is supposed to be a business-friendly government!”
He said: “This is all the more reason why people living in Thurrock should be applying for the discount – Â£20 a year for unlimited crossings or Â£10 a year for 50 crossings seems like a fair deal compared to Â£2.50 each way.”
The crossing remains free between 10pm and 6am, but new charges will be Â£2.50 for cars with less than nine seats, Â£3 for vans and two-axle HGVs, and Â£6 for multi-axle lorries.