Pressure grows to scrap the Tamar toll
The below Article by Lee Trewhela, as featured in the Cornish Times, Plymouth Live, Cornwall Live, the Plymouth Herald (and other outlets) on Thursday 11th May. Cornish Times version attached.
There is a growing groundswell of opinion in Cornwall against paying the toll to cross the Tamar Bridge, which is having a “massive impact” on the economy of south east Cornwall. A councillor from the area asked Cornwall Council’s Cabinet to take a closer look at the issue today (Wednesday, May 10).
The Tamar Bridge is now the most expensive toll bridge in the country, despite being significantly smaller than other crossings, such as the Dartford M25 crossing, the Mersey Tunnel and the Humber Bridge. It currently costs £2.60 to cross from Cornwall into Devon for a car, increasing to £14.30 depending on the size of vehicle, with half-price reductions if you have a Tamar Tag.
The Tamar Toll Action Group, which was formed a year ago, has almost 3,000 members and is calling for the complete abolition of the tolls to cross the Tamar – including the Torpoint ferries. It says the cost of crossing regularly is having a huge financial impact on businesses and residents, particularly those who live in the south east Cornwall area. The group cites a Saltash business paying £7,000 a month in crossings as as an example of the economic impact the tolls are having locally.
The Tamar Bridge is linked to the Torpoint Ferries via the Tamar Bridge Act. Both crossings are jointly owned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, and operated by the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee (TBTFJC).
Armand Toms, who represents Looe East & Deviock, told Conservative cabinet members at a meeting in Truro today: “The Tamar Bridge is an issue I’d like you to all look at because it’s having a massive impact. There is a groundswell that’s against the cost of the tolls.”
have to do that – their costs are substantially higher,” he added.
A recycling company based in Saltash showed Mr Slavin a copy of their tag statements recently, which included £7,000 for one month alone. He said: “The additional rub for them is that everyone who uses the bridge subsidises the ferry because the ferry runs at a loss – it does seem a little unfair that a company which pays so much per month to cross the bridge actually can’t use the ferry at all because their vehicle is too big for it. The Government needs to look at the whole system again.”
The group formed in April 2022 to share its anger “at the way the public consultation had been conducted for increasing the toll and the fact they introduced the discount rate toll for tag holders effectively immediately while having to go out to consultation to increase the cash rate,” added Mr Slavin. “The people who cross the bridge by tag got about two weeks notice that their toll was going up by 30 per cent. The public notice for the public consultation and to make representations to the Secretary of State for Transport was done in a rather underhand way, very discretely published. We felt that wasn’t enough effort to make people aware of what was happening.”
The action group has written to every councillor at every parish and town council in Cornwall and has received support from Cornwall councillors, predominantly those representing divisions in south east Cornwall, including Armand Toms, Colin Martin and Hillary Frank as well as engaging with MPs including Sheryll Murray and Luke Pollard.