Thursday, November 10, 2011

John Baron MP criticises Government over Dartford Crossing toll increases during Commons exchange

MP says new technology on existing Crossing should be tried before toll increases introduced

Today in the House of Commons during Transport Questions, John Baron MP criticised the Government for planned toll charge increases to fund the construction of a second crossing so that congestion could be eased. The Government has proposed to increase toll charges to £2 and then to £2.50 in 2012. John has previously raised this issue with Government Ministers and has written to the Government outlining his objections as part of the consultation – see Notes to Editors.

John said:

“Government thinking is flawed. Given that the existing crossing makes £35-40 million profit a year, why not first introduce Automatic Number-Plate Recognition technology at the existing Crossing to see if this solves the problem of congestion, before raising tariffs to fund a second crossing?”

“With a new Secretary of State in post, can we now have some fresh thinking on this issue?”

The Minister said in response that the Government did not think new technology would solve the congestion problem and therefore toll increases are necessary to help fund a second crossing

John said afterwards:

“Increasing toll charges in these difficult economic times is a nonsense. Hard pressed businesses and families need all the help they can get. New free-flow technology would substantially ease congestion. Nothing would be lost in seeing if this works first before raising toll charges for a second crossing.”

“I have written to the Secretary of State requesting a meeting and will be inviting other Essex MPs if I am successful.”

John is, of course, absolutely right on this one. Hiking the crossing fees in these difficult times makes no sense and the options for a second crossing are hopelessly limited anyway.

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