Severn tolls to be scrapped early

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Tolls on the two Severn bridges will be scrapped before Christmas, the Welsh Secretary announced on Tuesday.

Alun Cairns told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham flee-flow traffic will now be introduced two weeks ahead of schedule on December 17 this year.

Tolls on the original Severn Crossing have been in place since 1966, and introduced on the second crossing, renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge back in April, when it was opened 30 years later in 1996.

The current fee for a car crossing from the West of England into South Wales is £5.60, and regular commuters are expected to save more than £1,400 a year.

Severn crossing tolls
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said scrapping the tolls would see regular commuters save £1,400 per year (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Cairns said scrapping of the tolls will provide an immediate benefit of over £100m per year for Wales, and over a billion pounds of economic benefit over the next decade.

Mr Cairns said in a statement: “My number one aim when I became Secretary of State for Wales, was to do away with tolling that for half a century has restricted and distorted the growth and connections of the Welsh economy.

“Wales will be more open for business than ever after the Conservatives deliver on this commitment.

“Scrapping tolls before the festive period is an early Christmas present for hard working commuters who will be £1,400 per year better off.

“This is just the start of my plan to pursue yet more growth for a stronger and a better-connected Wales.

“Scrapping the Severn tolls is an example of the Conservatives ensuring that all four nations of the UK thrive after Brexit, in doing so, transforming the joint economic prospects of South Wales and the West of England.”

A statement from Prime Minister Theresa May said: “By abolishing tolls for 25 million annual journeys between two nations, the Conservatives are sending a positive, open for business message.

“Toll free, free flow journeys between both communities will drive further economic benefits to all areas surrounding the crossings and the key economic centres in Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Newport and across to Swansea and West Wales.”

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