Tolls for the existing road network will not be put back on the agenda in any secret government plan, Roads Minister Robert Goodwill has assured the Transport Select Committee.
Following government’s decision to scrap proposed tolls on the A14 earlier this year, Goodwill told cross-party MPs on the committee that there would be no U-turn on the subject following a general election.
“I think the fact that we are not tolling the A14 sets a very clear line in the sand that we’re not going to go down that route and that people can be reassured of that fact,” he said.
“There is no secret plan in the department that after the election we’re going to do a U-turn and announce that we’re going to start using roads that they’ve already paid for. I must make that absolutely clear.”
Opposition to tolls on the A14 was significant, and there has also been concern that tolls could be introduced on other sections of existing or improved network.
While Goodwill would not rule out tolls as a way for paying for new schemes, such as the new Lower Thames Crossing due to be given the go ahead soon, he said the department was not actively considering any plans to do so and also said private finance would definitely not be used to pay for such projects.
The Department for Transport is also consulting on proposals to make it easier for tolls to be increased on local authority run crossings. Currently all increases have to be applied for to the Secretary of State, but the preferred option is to allow for any increases that are at the rate inflation minus 1%.
The changes would affect crossings at: Aldwark Bridge, Nr Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire; Bournemouth-Swanage Motor-Road Ferry, Entrance of Poole Harbour , Dorset; Clifton Suspension Bridge, Leigh Woods, Bristol; Dartmouth-Kingswear Floating Bridge, Dartmouth, Devon; Dunham Bridge, Dunham-on-Trent, Lincolnshire; Rixton & Warburton Bridge, Warburton, Cheshire; Shrewsbury (Kingsland) Bridge, Shrewsbury, Shropshire; Swinford Bridge, Swinford, Oxfordshire; Tamar Bridge & Torpoint Ferry, Saltash, Cornwall; Whitchurch Bridge, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Oxfordshire; and Whitney-on-Wye Bridge, Whitney-on-Wye, Herefordshire.