BUSINESSES and families have rallied behind a campaign to remove the tolls at the Dartford Crossing and prevent another crossing being built.
Support for the campaign by the Echo’s sister paper, the Thurrock Gazette, has swelled since it was launched two weeks ago, urging officials to abandon proposals to increase the charges.
Hundreds of residents and businesses across south Essex have added their frustration about problems on the crossing and the impact a third crossing could have in Thurrock.
More than 700 people have added their name to the petition, which will be handed into Westminster by Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price at the end of next month.
The consensus among many agree the tolls should be removed completely and concerns have been raised about the increase in congestion, noise and pollution if a third proposed crossing was built through the borough.
Keith Brown, development manager for the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We welcome the Gazette’s campaign for the removal of the tolls plaza and would encourage members to support the petition.
“This is so Jackie Doyle-Price can demonstrate the strength of feeling that exists in the local community about the delays these tolls cause to local businesses.”
A Government consultation proposes two price hikes at the tolls from £1.50 to £2 later this year and £2.50 next year.
The bridge was opened in October 1991 to ease traffic through the tunnels, which regularly exceeded maximum capacity.
Rob Holliman, managing director of Youngs Transport, from Purfleet, said the company regularly pays around £1,500 per week to use the crossing.
He said: “It is theft. I don’t know how many times we have to pay for the crossing and it is a big part of the reason for the congestion.
“If the tolls are removed it would be easier for motorists and businesses.”
Resident John Pope added: “The increase in the toll is totally unjustified.
“We were told once the bridge had been paid for, the toll would stop. The reason for congestion at the crossing is having to stop to pay the toll.”
To add your support to the campaign, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/gazettepetition