POLITICIANS on both banks of the Humber have reacted angrily to the Government’s approval of an inflation-busting rise in the cost of Humber Bridge tolls.
Fares on the crossing are to rise by 11 per cent, almost double the rate of inflation, after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond accepted the findings of a public inquiry which backed the bridge board’s application to increase them.
The increase, the first since 2006, will see charges for a single crossing rise to £1.30 from £1.20 for motorcycles; to £3 from £2.70 for cars; and for heavy lorries from £18.30 to £20.30.
In a separate announcement yesterday, the Government said it would continue to offer a reduced interest rate on the bridge board’s £332m debt, saving it about £48m over the next five years.
Ministers also launched the “second phase” of a review into the bridge and said a further announcement would be made in November.
Opponents of the toll rises argued they stifled economic growth in the region but the board said they were necessary to meet the debt payments – which date from the cost of building the bridge 30 years ago – and fund maintenance costs.
A decision on when the rises will come into effect is expected to be taken at the board’s annual general meeting next Wednesday.
Hull Labour MP Diana Johnson said: “This £3 per car bridge toll is a setback for business regeneration and local people on both sides of the Humber. It comes on top of the bad news delaying the A63 road upgrade and the long list of cuts that this coalition Government has made that takes investment out of our local economy.”
North Lincolnshire Council leader Liz Redfern urged the board not to implement the increase. “Bearing in mind the Humber Bridge board has significant reserves, it would be prudent that they agree to no increase,” she said.
The board said it would continue to press the Government for a long-term solution to the debt issue.