Bridge debt sale proposal could see crossing tolls cut

Have your say

THE Government is being asked to consider radical plans to sell the Humber Bridge debt that could see tolls slashed to £1.50 for a single journey by car.

The Humber Bridge Board has approved plans to make the Treasury an offer of £100m to write off the structure’s historic debt of £332m.

If approved, the measure could see car tolls cut from £2.70 to £2.50 from April next year, and to £1.50 by 2020.

The tolls, which are seen by many as a bar to economic growth, fund the bridge’s running costs as well as meeting debt payments.

In June, the board won ministerial backing to raise the tolls from £2.70 to £3 for cars, but its members performed an abrupt U-turn yesterday with a new initiative which borrows much from an existing proposal by Hull businessman Malcolm Scott.

Board chairman Councillor David Gemmell said: “This would allow us to reduce the tolls to run the bridge and maintain it and hopefully the Government will allow us to do that.”

Mr Scott, who launched a campaign to buy the debt for £100m earlier this year, welcomed the move but said he wanted reform of the way the bridge was managed.

He said: “What I’m saying is there should be some specialist private sector input, with social services, perhaps the NHS and the voluntary sector, because the bridge is not just economic it’s social as well, and if you combine the social and economic aspects you have the governance aspirations of the ‘big society’ and you are giving central Government the incentive to write off the debt.”