Restrictions on bridge toll increases set to be lifted
THE owners of Whitchurch Bridge could be allowed to raise tolls without the Government’s permission.
The Department for Transport wants to make it easier for private operators of toll bridges, ferries and tunnels to increase their charges, saying the current process is too complicated and expensive and the costs are passed on to drivers.
At the moment consent is needed for any increase, regardless of the amount, and if even only one person objects then a public inquiry must be held.
When the Whitchurch Bridge Company last put up its tolls in 2009, the inquiry cost the taxpayer £9,895 and the company about £50,000 in legal fees.
The DfT is consulting on two options: operators could either increase their tolls whenever and however much they wanted or they could be restricted to an annual increase and a set percentage without asking permission. It prefers the latter option and suggests setting the limit of an increase at one per cent below inflation.