An increase in the cost of crossing the Tamar Bridge has been supported by Plymouth City Council’s cabinet, writes Alison Stephenson.

The 15 per cent rise means a £3 charge for cars and £1.50 for those who use the pre-paid electronic Tamar Tag system. The current charges are £2.60 and £1.30 respectively.

The proposals have also been accepted by Cornwall Council’s cabinet and will go before Cornwall and Plymouth full councils later this month for ratification before a request is made to the secretary of state for transport.

Both authorities are co-owners which share the operation and maintenance of the bridge, but it is financed by tolls paid by drivers.

Cllr Mark Coker (Lab, Devonport), Plymouth City Council’s cabinet member for transport, said both of the councils finance officers believe that no financial support can be available from the councils as their budgets are already under pressure.

The increase will address a predicted deficit in 2025/26 and allow a balanced budget this year.

Cllr Coker said the high cost of fuel and inflation of more than ten per cent “eroded” the financial plan of 2022 to provide a balance budget for what was hoped would be a four-to-five year period.

The number of vehicles crossing the bridge has not returned to pre-covid levels – it is currently around 90 per cent, partly because of more home-working.

Members of the cabinet accepted the recommendations from the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry joint committee.

Plymouth City Council leader Cllr Tudor Evans said: “The costs are not going down, the number of cars are not going up, and we do not have funding settlements that have enough headroom or are medium term that enable us to plan our way through this.”

Cornwall councillor Armond Toms (Ind, East Looe), who sits on the joint committee, told members last month tolls were going up like a “galloping racehorse” and they should not be penalising local people, but looking for other ways of bringing in income.

The move isn’t popular with the public who have asked for Tamar tolls to be abolished and for the government to take over operating the bridge in place of local authorities.

The committee said its reserves had been depleted and the rise would put £3 million in the bank by 2027/28 if it went ahead.