Today, Gareth Johnson MP, took delivery of a petition from Dartford Crossing road users which he presented to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Since being elected Gareth has been working hard trying to deal with this issue more than any other and at long last there is some progress. Last month saw one of the first occasions when the tolls were suspended to help alleviate congestion. This was a welcome decision but what is ultimately required is the removal of the toll booths.
Gareth has met with both the Roads Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport and they have agreed to implement a plan that should see the end of the booths.
Gareth said: “The Treasury, in these dire economic times, are unlikely to give up the £42m revenue raised from the tolls each year but they are at least listening to a commonsense approach to ending the congestion. These new systems may take some time to implement so in the mean time it is vital that we see more occasions when the tolls are suspended to ease congestion.
“People frequently raise the issue of the Crossing with me and when they do they generally have three complaints. Firstly the congestion, secondly the pollution and thirdly the cost. Although these changes would not deal with the cost they would remove the first two concerns”.
Gareth frequently speaks to the Transport Ministers and believes it is the biggest issue facing Dartford today.
Gareth continued: “I have not achieved all that I am aiming for – I still want the tolls to be scrapped. Yet I have secured the death knell for the toll booths and an acceptance by Government that the status quo for the Dartford Crossing is not an option. I yearn for the day that the Crossing is a positive thing for Dartford and not the nemesis it has become”.
Modern technology can be used to levy the charge instead of the current system. This would remove the toll booths and with them the congestion and pollution.
The Department of Transport is now looking at number plate recognition systems to replace the toll booths. They are also looking at various options to ensure that foreign lorry drivers and unregistered drivers are not allowed to escape the charge.