Dartford Crossing toll charge capped until April
12 December 2011
The Government has announced that the Dartford Crossing charge will not increase until after April 2012. The toll, which currently costs £1.50 for cars, was due to rise to £2 in November, while a further rise to £2.50 was planned for April.
Transport minister Mike Penning said in a written statement that the charges would remain the same until April 2012, and a decision about future price hikes would be announced in early 2012.
In September, 11 MPs representing various areas of Kent wrote to the Government opposing the hikes. Following the announcement of the increases, the Department for Transport (DfT) had come under fire from a number of other organisations, including the British Retail Consortium, which claimed that the first proposed increase would disadvantage shops in the run-up to Christmas. The South Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership described the charges as having "devastating effects on business".
Penning had also been criticised for failing to ring-fence revenue from the toll to be used on improvements for the site, despite promising to do so.
The Government claims that the extra revenue from a price rise would be used to remove toll booths and improve traffic flow through the notoriously congested crossing. The DfT had also promised that the booths would be removed completely in 2011. This contradicts the original plan to eliminate the charge completely once the build costs of the Dartford Tunnel and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge had been paid off, which supposedly happened in 2002.