Firms who regularly cross the Severn Bridge are angry that from January 1st they will be hit with another price increase. The M4 Business Network has issued a warning that some business may be forced to leave the area and they are urging the Welsh Government to address the issue of rising costs.
The Federation of Small Businesses in Wales has condemned the move and there are also concerns that the increase will be a blow to tourism. The toll for cars will now increase to £6 and small vans which are typically protected by vehicle insurance cover will see an increase of sixty pence, taking it to £12.10p. Heavy goods vehicles and full-size buses will have to pay £18.10p. Companies are appalled, claiming it is just another tax on business in the South-East of Wales and that it would act as a deterrent against investment in an area that is already fighting hard to survive.
Plaid Cymru Westminster Transport Spokesman, Jonathan Edwards MP, said “Each year the tolls on the Severn Bridges continue to rise alongside RPI, the higher measure of inflation, because of the inflexibility of the Westminster Act which introduced them. Estimates presented last year to the Welsh Affairs Committee suggested that the bridges cost £15m to operate but rake in £72m each year. The cost of company vehicles crossing the Severn bridges could be cut by two-thirds or three-quarters and be self-sustaining. This would markedly reduce the impact on the Welsh economy.”
Businessmen the area are convinced the extra toll will drive business away from the area and point out that a similar scheme, the Humber Bridge in North East England, is having its toll charges halved. For the time being motorists seem to have no option but to pay up or face the long trek round the coast that puts hours on their journey.