A TRANSPORT plan that raised the prospect of reintroducing tolls on the Severn bridges has finally been adopted by a council. 

Monmouthshire County Council came under fire from Welsh Secretary and Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies, and others, over the inclusion of possibly lobbying for the reintroduction of the tolls in the draft plan that was consulted on at the end of last year. 

The council’s Labour-led cabinet approved the local transport strategy – which outlines how it aims to support bus and rail travel, increasing cycling and walking routes and accepts some journeys will have to continue to be made by private vehicles – at its Wednesday, May 15 meeting. It doesn’t contain any call for reintroducing the bridge tolls. 

It also agreed the plan sets out Monmouthshire’s transport priorities for consideration by the Cardiff City Region as it develops the South East Wales Transport Plan. 

Conservative opposition leader Cllr Richard John said he welcomed the plan that has been agreed by the cabinet. 

He said: “I welcome the removal of the proposal around lobbying for the reintroduction of the Severn bridge tolls, a work place parking levy, variable parking charges and low emission zones that dominated public feedback and overshadowed more positive debate that could have taken place. 

“Can the public have confidence those specific four proposals are permanently off the table?” 

Drybridge councillor Catrin Maby, the cabinet member responsible for transport, said it was “weirdly negative” of Cllr John to focus on what isn’t in the plan and said asking for something to be permanently off the table sounded like the council should never be asked to discuss them “in perpetuity”. 

She said it hadn’t been the council’s intention to lobby for reintroducing the bridge tolls but it, and some other ideas, were listed in the draft plan having been raised “by stakeholders”. 

She said the plan sets out the council’s strategy for the next five years and those actions raised by Cllr John aren’t included but she reminded him as responsibility for transport strategies had now passed to the Cardiff City Region, which brings together councils from across south east Wales “we are not really in a position to provide any guarantees as to what would, or wouldn’t, be included in that plan.” 

Cllr Maby had earlier said though councils are no longer required to produce their own transport plans Monmouthshire had agreed to do so as it wanted to influence the wider regional plan and didn’t want to be sidelined by larger population areas or it position on the edge of the region. 

In January councillors debated a Conservative motion that lobbying for the reintroduction of the tolls and the workplace charging levy be removed from the plan. At that time the cabinet said it had never intended adopting them but they were included in the draft strategy as it was a discussion document.