VIDEO | Theresa May pledges to abolish tolls on Severn Crossings between Wales and England
Theresa May has pledged to abolish tolls on the Severn Crossings.
Twenty-five million journeys are made each year and tolls will go for all vehicles. Highways England will assume responsibility for Severn Crossings in 2018.
The Conservative leader will say: “I want to ensure that our economic progress is shared across the United Kingdom. By abolishing tolls for 25 million annual journeys between two nations we will strengthen the links between communities.
“This will drive economic growth right across the country helping key economic centres in Cardiff, Bath, Bristol and Newport. By significantly reducing the cost of doing business between Wales and England, the Conservatives continue to deliver on improving the economic prospects of ordinary working people.
“There is only one leader at this election who will put the economic prospects of all parts of the United Kingdom first. The choice next month is clear: economic stability and a better deal under my Conservative team, or chaos under Jeremy Corbyn, whose nonsensical policies would risk the economy and destroy jobs.”
Labour’s manifesto states: “We will work with the Welsh Government to scrap the tolls on the Severn Bridge.”
Conservative Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns welcomed the announcement, saying: “Scrapping the Severn Crossing tolls is an example of the Conservatives of taking the big decisions when they’re the right decisions, in doing so, transforming the joint economic prospects of South Wales and the South West of England. Drivers using this key artery between two nations, en route to London, will benefit from a £100m boost to the local area.
“Theresa May will ensure that economic prosperity is spread across the United Kingdom and this clear commitment will guarantee that links are strengthened and enhanced between the natural economic areas of South Wales and the South West of England.”
Here’s the business reaction:
Ben Cottam of the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales welcomed the Labour and Conservative pledges.
He said: “FSB Wales has long campaigned for a reduction in the tolls which many of our members see as a barrier to trade between south Wales and the south west of England.
“Whilst this pledge is dependent on the outcome of the General Election, should either of these parties form the next UK Government, we would look forward to working alongside them and the Welsh Government to see the delivery of this pledge start benefitting businesses who rely on the Severn Bridge Crossing. We would call on the next UK Government to implement this at the earliest opportunity in order to alleviate the time and cost burden of the existing tolls.”
Labour were not impressed by Mrs May’s announcement
Jessica Morden, who hopes to be re-elected as Labour MP for Newport East, said: “The Tories are fooling no one with their cynical election announcement on Severn Tolls… [I] have been campaigning for years, with the support of Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour colleagues in the Assembly, to get the Tory UK-Government to take action on tolls and relieve the huge burden they place on local residents and businesses.
“Welsh Labour is committed to scrapping tolls, and will do so in government. The Tories may claim that they’ll axe tolls now, but as we know from bitter experience, the claims they make at election time are not worth the paper they’re written on.”
John Warman of Cast – the Campaign Against the Severn Tolls – welcomed the announcement, acknowledging it “might be a bit opportunistic”.
He said: “It will be a big boost to us on both sides of the bridge.”
Cardiff North Conservative incumbent candidate Craig Williams said: “Theresa May is committed to improving the country’s transport and this is just another example of how seriously the Conservatives take the Welsh economy.”