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A charge too far

PUBLISHED: 13:50 27 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:44 25 August 2010

FLOODS of letters, calls and emails have been received by an MP in response to the Dartford crossing toll hikes.

FLOODS of letters, calls and emails have been received by an MP in response to the Dartford crossing toll hikes.

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, was contacted by 100 disgruntled constituents after the toll was raised by 50 per cent this month from £1 to £1.50.

The charge was due to be scrapped when it recouped the cost of completing the crossing, but became a permanent fixture in 2000.

Last week our sister papers, the Dartford and Swanley Times and Gravesend Reporter, launched a campaign to suspend the toll for a month to see if it reduces congestion, as claimed by the Department for Transport (DfT).

But Bexley residents have complained that they suffer an even more expensive fate - only Dartford and Thurrock residents receive a discount to use the crossing.

Mr Evennett said: "The fact that the government reneged on its original promise to use the toll to pay for the bridge is unfair and unacceptable.

"Now we also have the unfair situation where only those in Thurrock and Dartford get a discount on the toll.

"Many people in Crayford live closer to the bridge than some residents in those areas, yet they get nothing."

Thurrock and Dartford residents can pay £10 a year to get 50 free journeys a year, then a 20p toll thereafter.

Mr Evennett already campaigned to have the toll lifted for a week alongside Conservative politicians including Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst.

But the DfT claims the toll rise aims to knock congestion in the areas surrounding the bridge down by 17.5 per cent.

Thomas Clarke, a furious resident of Clifton Road, Welling, said: "Who are the greedy suckers kidding?

"If they really wanted a free flowing traffic situation they'd do away with the tolls altogether, as was promised in 1996."

Another resident from Erith wrote to Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon to complain of the 'unfair' situation Bexley residents are in.

He said: "I have no other option but to use this nearest crossing to me as necessary to commute to my place of work.

"The Thames Gateway Bridge is no longer feasible and, if I use the Blackwall tunnel, it entails a considerable and unnecessary journey in the wrong direction.

"The decision to now exclude Bexley residents from any available discounts seems wholly unfair."

After the 50 per cent increase, the Dartford toll will bring in at least £300,000 per day compared to £200,000 previously.

To join our Stop The Toll campaign, fill out the coupon in the paper and send it to our offices or sign the online petition at www.bexleytimes.co.uk.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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