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AA backs Reporter anti-tolls crusade

PUBLISHED: 15:32 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:27 23 August 2010

TWO of the country s top motoring organisations have backed the Times/Reporter campaign to axe the Dartford Tolls for one month. The AA, often referred to as the fourth emergency service, and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, have both added their su

TWO of the country's top motoring organisations have backed the Times/Reporter campaign to axe the Dartford Tolls for one month.

The AA, often referred to as the fourth emergency service, and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, have both added their support to the campaign.

So far more than 1,000 residents across north Kent and south east London have signed our petition to axe the tolls, which has increased by 50 per cent for cars since last November.

Paul Watters, Head of Road Policy for the AA, said: "We don't think road drivers should have to pay. It is a road charging scheme.

"We support the campaign, the tolls should have been lifted after the bridge was paid for, it is a road charging scheme, and it has lost its meaning. It is not paying for the bridge anymore and it does not benefit the local area.

"The only concerns we would have is with traffic management issues. The tolls do help to control traffic, such as stopping heavy goods vehicles with dangerous cargos and acting as a relief valve for traffic entering the tunnel.

"But there is no reason why we should be paying for that."

Neil Grieg is the director of Policy and Research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the UK's leading road safety organisation.

He said: "One of the main promises by the government with the Dartford Tolls was that the charge would go when the bridge was paid for.

"They have reneged on a promise and drivers have paid for the tolls many times over. In terms of congestion, getting rid of the tolls altogether would not help a great deal, but it would certainly make the journey times more predictable."

Mr Grieg said in Scotland that tolls on four bridges, the Forth Road Bridge, the Erskine Bridge, the Tay Road Bridge and the Skye Bridge, have been axed and he cannot see why the same cannot be done in Dartford.

He added: "If the tolls can be wiped out overnight on these bridges, it shows it can be done.

"We support the Times/Reporter campaign wholeheartedly, it's a great way to make the government see that they have broken promises."

The Department for Transport maintains that without a charge, traffic would increase by 17 per cent. Its decision to scrap tolls from 10pm to 6am and raise the daytime fees for cars forms part of the same policy aimed at reducing congestion.

n Add your support by sending this coupon to Unit 4, The Courtyard, 7A Manor Road, Gravesend, DA12 1AA or visit www.gravesendreporter.co.uk

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