Thursday, December 24, 2009

Freight Transport Association Blast Truck Tolls on Severn

Fury at Government “Ignorance”
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has launched a scathing attack on the both the British and Welsh governments for their continuing failure to address the disparity in tolls paid by haulage companies using the Severn bridge in comparison to other river crossings around the country.

In a blistering attack the FTA describes the current tolls policy as “a disdain for business in Wales” and penalising businesses in the country with “a massive bill for Christmas”.

Ian Gallagher, the FTA’s Policy Manager for Wales, says that: “Staggering ignorance from Westminster and a cynical lack of concern from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) for its own economy has left many businesses reeling. FTA members that use the crossing already rack up bills for many tens of thousands of pounds in a year, the extra ten pence per lorry fee may not seem a lot for the average motorist, but it will make a most unwelcome Christmas present for those companies struggling to stay afloat during the recession.”

The FTA’s criticism has become increasingly vocal in the last few months in light of what it sees as blatant favouritism by Westminster for other regions in the UK after the Minister for Transport, Sadiq Khan, announced on the 6th of October that the government was giving the Humber Bridge in Yorkshire a grant of £6 million so that tolls on that particular route could be frozen.

At the time Mr. Khan said that: “the Government was committed to doing everything it can to protect communities and businesses from economic downturn and help the country recover.”

Since then the FTA has been lobbying hard to get a similar deal for users of the Severn crossing, already the most expensive river crossing in the UK, with tolls frozen until next year. However, the intransigence of the responsible authorities to this idea has infuriated the organisation.

Mr. Gallagher continued: “There is a clear disregard for controlling tolls on this crucial commercial link into Wales and our efforts have been frustrated by bloody-minded reluctance from either the Severn River Crossing Plc or the Department for Transport to take ultimate responsibility.

“What makes this indifference to the commercial reality even harder to swallow is that the government has shown a commitment to help business by reducing tolls on the Humber Bridge. Our question is simple: why is this commitment not being extended to Wales?”