LAST WEEKEND saw hundreds march across the Tamar Bridge in protest against toll charges.
The ‘Call to Action’ march had been organised by the Tamar Toll Action Group (TTAG) supported by All Under One Banner Kernow (AUOBK).
The event saw crowds gather on the Cornish side of the River Tamar at the Alexandra Square car park in Saltash where speeches were given by Liberal Democrat candidate for North Cornwall, Phil Hutty and Cornwall Councillor, Armand Toms before the group set off across the bridge using the pedestrian cantilever towards the Plymouth side. The protesters walked across the bridge to the car park on the Plymouth side to chants of ‘What do we want – Abolish the tolls, When do we want it – Now!’ with many holding banners proclaiming End the Tamar Toll Tax and Scrap the Tolls.
Over 300 people protested against the Tamar tolls on Saturday (July 29), the same weekend as the Saltash Regatta.
In the first set of short speeches to the crowds on the Cornish side of the River, Phil Hutty asked, “Why is it that you are worth less than people in London, in Manchester, anywhere in this country… I ask you today as you walk across to think about that, that we are worth that bridge being free!” while Armand Toms, Cornwall Councillor spoke of the injustice the tolls were on local South East Cornwall residents and businesses and the lack of infrastructure funding for this part of Cornwall.
As they made their way across the bridge passing traffic blew their horns in support. There were impassioned speeches too on the Plymouth side by Cornwall Councillors Colin Martin and Andrew Long, long-serving councillor on the Joint Committee which directs the management of the joint crossings of the Bridge and the Torpoint ferry over the Tamar, and Plymouth City Councillor Stephen Hulme.
Colin Martin, parliamentary candidate set to stand in South East Cornwall pointed out that the people of this area of the county are not a priority for the government, while Andrew Long vented his frustration at the lack of progress to resolve this longstanding situation.
After reading out a statement sent to the group by local MP Sheryll Murray, Vice President of the Tamar Toll Action Group Scott Slavin finished proceedings by thanking all who had come for their ongoing support and participation in the march.
Following the march both members of the TTAG and councillors were impressed by the turnout and the support the march received.
Mel Priston, Chair of TTAG said the committee were delighted with the high turnout and even more determined now to get some movement on the tolls.
She said: “We look forward now to a follow-up meeting promised by Sheryll Murray to look at the case we made for toll-free crossings.
“Today’s march goes a long way in cementing our case for action - thank you to all those who attended and made their feelings clear.
“As a committee we still have a lot of work ahead and look forward to their continued support.”
Cornwall and Callington Councillor, Andrew Long stressed that the UK government needs to listen to the the public and take action.
He said: “It was pretty good that there were at least five Cornwall councillors there from different political groups. There seems to be a fairly united feel that we need to take action on the Tamar Bridge.
“But I still maintain that we need to get tough with the government. They should pay a fair share for use of our bridge and they don’t. I urge both Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council to send the UK government a bill, we need to Government to pay.
“The march highlights the fact to central government and to the MPs that people have had enough. I think that was really clear from the people that were there.”