Talking business

Iestyn Davies

Iestyn Davies

First published in Business by

Anyone who has had any dealings with us at FSB Wales is probably well aware of our concerns over the Severn Bridge tolls.

The tolls are a huge burden, not only on the haulage industry, but also to the many small businesses and commuters who use the Severn Crossings on a regular basis. The toll for a car is £6.40, but for a small goods vehicle the cost is double that at £12.80.

We at the FSB have long been calling for the tolls on the bridges to be reduced as soon as the bridges pass back in to public ownership, something that is due to happen sometime after 2018.

The issue of the tolls has been brought back into the news in recent days after an announcement by the Liberal Democrats that they would abolish the tolls once the bridges returned to public ownership and any debts were paid off.

Any commitment to reduce the tolls is welcome. We know that the impact of the tolls on the economy of South Wales is huge.

A report produced for the Assembly by consultants Arup has suggested that if the bridge tolls were abolished it could boost economic output in Wales by £107m.

The all-party Welsh Affairs Select Committee has previously called for tolls to be cut 'at the earliest possible opportunity' and suggested that the toll could be cut by around 80 per cent if it were used just to cover the maintenance costs of the two bridges.

There is a case for control over the bridges being passed to the Welsh Government once the current contract ends, but no matter who has control of the bridges, Wales or Westminster, it is essential that the tolls are reduced to the lowest level possible as soon as possible. Until they are, the economy of South East Wales will continue to be held back.

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