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Toll fees a disgrace

PUBLISHED: 15:41 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:35 23 August 2010

TOLL discounts have been branded a political fix because residents living nearer to the crossing than those getting a reduction have been snubbed. Michael Fallon, Sevenoaks and Swanley MP, is furious residents living in his constituency do not qualify

TOLL discounts have been branded a 'political fix' because residents living nearer to the crossing than those getting a reduction have been snubbed.

Michael Fallon, Sevenoaks and Swanley MP, is furious residents living in his constituency do not qualify for a reduced price under new proposals.

Resident in Dartford borough and Thurrock will get 50 free journeys a year and pay 20p thereafter.

Mr Fallon said: "Thurrock is twice as big as Dartford and extends 13 miles west of the crossing.

"But half of my constituency, including Swanley, West Kingsdown and New Ash Green, the Darenth Valley villages and parts of Sevenoaks Town, is closer to the crossing.

"Bexley, Orpington and Gravesend are also closer than most of Thurrock.

"This is blatant political discrimination. Dartford and Thurrock are Labour marginal seats. Bexley, Orpington, Sevenoaks and Gravesham happen to be Conservative.

"Worse still, it looks as if the discount will replace the £1 million grant from the tolls given to Kent County Council for transport infrastructure. The county will lose out.

"Labour shouldn't be allowed to get away with this. Thousands of other Kent residents use the bridge regularly, why should Labour voters get special treatment?"

Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons to try and secure a discount for his constituents.

He is being supported by Bob Neill MP for Bromley and Chislehurst.

Last week we revealed Adam Holloway, Gravesham MP, and Gareth Johnson, parliamentary candidate for Dartford, urged the government to axe tolls for a one-week trial to asses its impact on journey times.

Mr Holloway said: "We believe that there would be a free flow of traffic, less pollution, fewer traffic jams and it would speed up journey times and make business more effective."

Transport minister Rosie Winterton told Mr Evennett she considered the proposed boundaries of the discount scheme "the maximum that could be justified".

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