Ministers from all assembly parties in Wales have called for tolls on the Severn bridges to be scrapped.
Currently, motorists crossing either of the two bridges from England into Wales are charged a minimum of £6.60.
While the bridge is presently owned by Severn River Crossing (SRC) PLC, it could return to public ownership as early as 2017. The UK government has promised to halve the fee, while Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns suggested the introduction of a free-flowing system, with a toll of £1.80-£1.90 either way.
However, in a Welsh Assembly debate led by UKIP on Wednesday, all four parties backed the motion to axe the fees, with 45 of the 60 assembly ministers supporting the assembly vote.
One member was absent in the vote, and none motioned against it.
The three other parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, and the Welsh Conservatives –presented amendments supporting scrapping the tolls.
The Welsh Conservatives said the abolition should only be a “priority” provided that the bridges’ future can be secured through existing budgets with no impact on other transport projects.
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru called for the bridges’ ownership to be devolved in order to scrap the tolls.
The latter two amendments were turned down, as AMs voted for Labour’s amendment, which states that once the bridges return to public ownership, there is “no case for continuing to charge tolls on the Severn bridges to fund ongoing maintenance” as “they represent an unfair tax on the people and businesses of Wales”.
A UK Department for Transport spokesman commented: “The government announced its intention to halve the tolls on the River Severn Crossings in the 2016 Budget.”
He added that a consultation on the Severn crossings would be held.
November 17, 2016