AN INFLATION-busting rise in the cost of tolls on the Humber Bridge will come into effect next month.
The tolls will rise by 11 per cent from October 1, with charges for a single crossing rising to £1.30 from £1.20 for motorcycles; to £3 from £2.70 for cars; and for heavy lorries to £20.30 from £18.30.
The increases, the first since 2006, were approved in June after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond accepted the findings of a public inquiry which backed the bridge board’s application to raise the fares.
Opponents of the rises argue the tolls stifle economic growth in the region, but the board said they were necessary to meet the bridge’s debt payments – which date from the cost of building the iconic structure 30 years ago – and fund maintenance costs.
The bridge board is meanwhile going head to head with Hull businessman Malcolm Scott over rival plans to reduce the debt and tolls, with the Government expected to make a final decision on the plans in November.
Mr Scott’s idea, revealed in February, would see the Humber Bridge’s £330m paper debt purchased for £100m. Tolls would drop to £1 after eight years spent paying off the £100m.
But his bid faced an unexpected challenge after the board unexpectedly made a last-minute submission to the Treasury last month, also offering a £100m buy-out and proposing to cut tolls from £2.70 to £2.50 from April next year, and to £1.50 by 2020.
Politicians on both banks of the Humber reacted angrily when the increases were announced in June, with Hull Labour MP Diana Johnson calling the new charge for cars “a setback for business regeneration and local people”.
The rises were opposed by the four Humber councils.
But at the public inquiry the board argued the bridge had not been an impediment and suggested the Humber’s economy had not developed over the last 30 years because businesses and local authorities failed to utilise it.
The bridge, which was once the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world, was opened by the Queen in July, 1981, and carries about 120,000 vehicles a week.