Government ‘must be open’ on Severn bridges - Newport MP
Updated 8:14am Thursday 6th March 2014 in News
A NEWPORT MP has said the UK Government should be open about its plans for the Severn Crossings once they go back into public ownership.
Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, made the call during her House of Commons debate on the crossings’ tolls yesterday, airing suspicions the crossings are a “cash cow”.
But a junior transport minister said no decision has yet been made on what will happen to the tolls once the agreement, allowing a private firm to operate the bridges, ends. Earlier this week Monmouth MP David Davies was told VAT would no longer apply to the toll at the end of the agreement, estimated to occur in 2018.
Ms Morden said: “We need an openness from the Department for Transport and the Treasury about what plans are being made and what the Government’s thinking is when the bridges return to public ownership.”
“This is a cost of living issue for my constituents, especially for those who commute daily over the bridge”.
She said there is “very strong suspicion that the Government see the bridges as a cash cow”, citing an estimated £135 million in VAT since the tax was imposed on the bridges.
But Mark Harper, Tory MP for the Forest of Dean, called for the minister not to rule out the future use of toll revenue to fund a third Severn crossing to relieve congestion in Gloucestershire.
Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn said it would be “deeply resented” if the toll paid for a third crossing in “thinly populated areas”.
Junior transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “No decisions have been made regarding the operation and tolling arrangements of the crossings once the current regime ends.”
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