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Opposition grows to Dartford crossing tolls rise
9:00am Thursday 24th May 2012 in Basildon
HAULAGE firms fear they will be put in trouble by the planned hikes in tolls at Dartford crossing at a time when the economy is struggling.
Roads Minister Mike Penning announced tolls would be put up by 50p in October for cars and light goods vehicles and by £1.30 for HGVs. Then in 2014, tolls will rocket to £2.50 for cars, £3 for light goods vehicles, and £6 for HGVs.
The rises are being brought in despite 82 per cent of people, who responded to a Government consultation, disagreeing with any increase.
Ian Gordon, the managing director of Gordon Transport, in Cranes Close, Basildon, said the increase for HGVs will put a real strain on his company.
Mr Gordon, 57, said: “In this current economic climate I think this is really unfair.
“Who will pay for this increase? It’s not something we can pass on to customers, so we’ll have to pay.
“It hard for haulage firms at the moment, with the cost of diesel and insurance going up, the last thing we need is for the tolls to go up as well.
“The company has about 15 crossings a week so this will put a real strain on us.”
Lawrence Elliot, transport manager at Grays firm Transmer, based in London Road, said he had two to three lorries crossing at Dartford on a daily basis.
He said: “I think it’s unfair to do this in this climate, but it’s particularly unfair to rescind on promises that were made in the past.
“When the crossing was built, they said it would be free once it was paid for, but they’ve gone back on that.
“Unfortunately I think this is a sign of how it will be in the future. The Government can’t keep lumping a tax on fuel, so this is how they’ll tax us.”
Thurrock Council leader John Kent welcomed the fact that Thurrock residents will keep their local discount scheme, but doesn’t support the price rises.
The Labour councillor accused the Government of treating the crossing like a “cash-cow”.
He said: “It is disappointing the tolls are rising. It seems the crossing is seen as a cash-cow bringing in the money, not a business opportunity, freeing up commerce.”
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