Liberal Democrats from across the South West have called for the Tamar Crossings to be fully funded by Central Government so that the tolls can be abolished.
Party members, Councillors, Parliamentary candidates and MPs at the party’s regional conference voted unanimously to support a motion proposed by South East Cornwall Liberal Democrats.
Local party Chair Adam Sturtridge explained how the tolls hurt the local economy, put an unfair burden on local residents, and are bad for the environment too, as they encourage people to take longer routes to avoid the bridge and ferry.
Although the crossings are owned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, this could be changed by an act of Parliament, but local Conservative and Labour MPs seem unwilling to change the status quo. Every year, MPs get the opportunity to introduce “Private Members Bills” on any issue they choose. But in thirteen years as MP for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray has chosen the topics of harbour pilotage, deep sea mining and captive primates, not the Tamar Tolls. Meanwhile the Labour party recently launched a petition calling for a larger increase in cash / card tolls in order to allow smaller increases for those using prepaid tags.
Speakers at the Liberal Democrat conference from as far away as Gloucestershire and Dorset said that even though they had never used the bridge or ferry, they supported centralised funding “because it’s a matter of fairness”.
Ending Saturday’s debate, Cllr Colin Martin (the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South East Cornwall) pointed out that the total cost of both crossings is just 0.001% of annual Government spending, which he claimed would have no noticeable impact on the national budget, whilst providing a real boost to the hard-pressed families and businesses of South East Cornwall and Plymouth.
Scott Slavin, Vice Chair of The Tamar Toll Action Group, welcomed this decision: “We thank the Liberal Democrat Party for their recognition of this critical transport issue, which impacts many thousands of people across South East Cornwall and the wider South West. We look to other parties to note this strong lead and consider their position on the matter.”
Cllr Martin will now ask Cornwall Councillors of all parties to show their support for abolishing the Tamar Tolls at the next meeting of Cornwall Council on November 28th. He is encouraging local residents and businesses to show their support by signing the petition at www.seclibdems.uk/tamar-tolls