Did we mention this is an election year? A good time to ask for Tamar Bridge and Torpoint ferry subsidies

Posted By on 20th February 2024

By Peter Tremayne

The politics of crossing the River Tamar got severely bogged down at Cornwall’s full council meeting this morning (Tuesday) as various acts of posturing saw councillors arguing for or against delaying a toll increase.

Officials want to increase tolls to £3 cash or £1.50 for a Tamar Tag.

In common with all other bridges and tunnels in England, the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint ferries rely on user-generated income.  But some councillors, particularly those in South East Cornwall, think the crossings should be subsidised by taxpayers.

A Liberal Democrat proposal to delay an increase until after the general election was defeated 38-25, but splits in the Conservative group over proposals for a possible 55-day delay saw a 38-36 vote in favour.

The delay in making a firm decision is to give the government an “opportunity” to provide more financial support before the start of the next financial year.  If the government fails to find more cash then the tolls will increase in line with the recommendation.

One Conservative councillor described the debate as “an absolute shambles.”

Some Tories think that South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray and Plymouth’s Johnny Mercer might be able to change government policy by April.

Mrs Murray said later:  "Very disappointed that the Tamar Toll increase was approved at full council.  I will do all I can to get some funding from Secretary of State along with my colleagues to freeze the tolls."

The delay has the potential to add to the drain on the council’s reserves.  It is also likely to irritate Plymouth City Council, which shares responsibility for the Tamar Crossings operation and which has yet to hold its own budget-setting meeting.


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