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Toll Tales

PUBLISHED: 17:49 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:51 23 August 2010

AN MP has branded a government consultation into changes in charges on a busy toll bridge a scam . Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham, blasted the government s response to a consultation on the proposed area and rate of the discount available for residents

AN MP has branded a government consultation into changes in charges on a busy toll bridge a "scam".

Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham, blasted the government's response to a consultation on the proposed area and rate of the discount available for residents living near to the Dartford Crossing released by the Department for Transport (DfT) last Thursday.

The consultation ran from February 16 to May 16 and, despite a protest MPs from Bromley, Bexleyheath and Gravesham in April, the DfT refused to extend a toll discount to surrounding areas of the crossing.

Dartford and Thurrock residents are to be given 50 free crossings a year and a 90 per cent discount from the autumn but the scheme will not be extended to surrounding areas of Gravesham, Swanley, Bexley or Bromley.

Mr Holloway said: "The government has not listened to the public who responded to the consultation, nor the MPs whose constituents are affected in the wider Kent community. Like other government consultations, such as the Post Office closures, its consultations are a scam to push through narrowly thought out policies rather than the benefit of the whole community."

In a written statement issued last Thursday Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said the government is aiming to introduce the changes, including raising cash charges from £1 to £1.50, in autumn.

Car drivers opting to pay via the Dart-TAG system will still be able to cross for £1 wherever they live.

The government also refused to go back on its withdrawal of the additional £1.75 million funding currently given to Kent and Thurrock councils in recognition of the impact of the crossing on residents. A DfT spokesman said: "People made a strong case for a discount and we have listened.

"We wanted to ensure that those most affected were included while at the same time using a clearly understood boundary.

"Anyone, regardless of where they live, can benefit from a 50p reduction on the new cash charges for cars simply by paying with a Dart-TAG.

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