January 2019: Your Local MP
Nobody – not one single resident in our community, will have to pay to use the Severn Bridge in 2019. After many years of campaigning, the tolls were finally scrapped on 17 December.
The Severn crossings are local iconic landmarks which have served commuters, businesses and communities in England and Wales for over 50 years. The tolls to cross them had been in place since the first Severn Bridge was opened in 1966, when the fee was two shillings and sixpence. (Which equates to about 12p in today’s money.)
Having lived in South Gloucestershire all my life, the tolls have been a point of contention, or just plain annoyance, for as long as I can remember. Around 25 million journeys are made across the two bridges annually, and the charge of between £5.60 and £20 has been a source of contention with local businesses, commuters and visitors to Wales for years. They represented a drag to economic growth in the South West of England and Wales, and both a physical, and therefore psychological barrier between our two regions.
I have been fighting inside of Government for these charges to be scrapped since I was elected, and I am delighted this has now been delivered. There can be no clearer signal that our local community is now more open for business than ever before. This move is designed to help the community with the cost of living, and make commuting, family trips and travel between our two communities much more affordable.
Now that the tolls have been removed, the councils across the west of England and Wales will be working with Governments to make sure that any potential increase in traffic as a result of more people using the crossings is mitigated. This historic change also gives me the opportunity as the local MP to push for even more improvements to our road network, such as finally delivering junction 18A onto the M4 and pushing for improvements to Junction 14 on the M5.
Scrapping the tolls is both an historic moment and a great opportunity. It means motorists keep more of their own money, and allows more visitors to drive across the M48 Severn Bridge and encounter some of the most striking and welcoming towns and villages in the world. I would challenge anyone to drive across the now toll-free Severn Bridge, make the crossing into South Gloucestershire, and not be bowled over by its beauty.