A LOCAL councillor is calling for a change in a parliamentary act that is behind the high Tamar Bridge tolls which she deems as unfair, archaic and wrong.
Cornwall Councillor and Calstock parish councillor, Dorothy Kirk is voicing her concerns over The Tamar Bridge Act 1957 which she says is preventing a toll review and that the high toll is unfair on residents of East Cornwall who are already subjected to low wages.
Cllr Kirk explained that there is ‘enormous pressure on Cornwall Council at the moment’ over the Tamar Bridge tolls, but is voicing that until the act has been rescinded there will be no change.
Cllr Kirk is calling on local MPs to continue applying pressure to make change happen saying, ‘we need all our local MPs to support us, there must be a change to the law so that it’s possible to review the punitive tax on East Cornwall of the bridge tolls.’ See page 3
The bridge toll recently increased from £2 to £2.60 at the start of the year on the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry, a 30% increase. The Tamar Bridge Act 1957 which originally set the funding rules for the crossings states that the bridge must be financially supported by tolls.
Cllr Kirk feels the increase in tolls and the presence of a toll all together due to this legislation is unfair for the people of East Cornwall who rely on the bridge to access Derriford Hospital and to travel to Plymouth for work.
Cllr Kirk said: ‘It certainly isn’t fair now that we have what is effectively a tax on the people of East Cornwall.
‘It’s a complete anachronism and really unfair in an area where wages in the first place aren’t very high. That’s why so many people cross the bridge to work in Plymouth, and of course people cross the bridge to go to Derriford Hospital and for someone going across the bridge regularly paying the toll everyday, paying to park at Derriford and probably having to drive because they have no means of transport to get them there, it’s punitive.
‘Where else in the country do you have to pay a toll to go to your local hospital or to go to work or to go to university, or go shopping?
‘It’s not a luxury to go across the bridge, it’s a necessity and it should not be costing you a fortune as a tax payer. We pay our taxes and then we have to pay to cross the bridge because of an archaic piece of legislation. The toll is too high because wages here are low. The fact that we pay at all is just simply wrong.’
Cllr Kirk expressed that she recognises the need for increasing the tolls, but feels that now that the bridge has been paid for she emphasises, ‘several times over’, that the bridge should be made part of Highways England.
‘You don’t have to pay to cross from England into Wales, so why do you have to pay to cross from Cornwall into Devon?’, said Dorothy.
‘We are part of the United Kingdom. If the Tamar Bridge was Highways England, the funding of it would not fall on local people, but would fall like every other major road in the country, to Highways England.
‘The bridge is part of the essential infrastructure of the country.
‘It’s archaic, it’s wrong and we need an act of parliament rescinded so we can really campaign either for a reduction in tolls but preferably doing away with them all together and making it part of Highways England.
‘We all just accept that we have the toll.’
Cllr Kirk feels the the only way to regain control over the tolls is for the act to be revoked. Adding: ‘For a long long time it should’ve been dealt with.
‘We need all our MPs to get behind us and to say it’s just not acceptable.’