Genesis of the Cairns Tax
Will the saga of the Severn Bridges toll ever be put on the stage?
It happened with a PACAC select committee meeting and it was a fine entertaining musical.
The Severn Tolls farce might be judged too far-fetched to be plausible.
This year we have witnessed a series of nonsensical statements by the Tory snake-oil hucksters that were designed to deceived. They all produced hoops of grateful joy from a media with the concentration span of an earthworm. The charlatan politicians plan to rob us again next January but demand our gratitude for their fake news. The 'cut' is a con.
PIC: SOUTH WALES ARGUS. Left to Right, TORY MP David Davies , TORY Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, TORY Minister Chris Graying united in mission to sell Tolls snake-oil.
On the 12th December 2016 the hapless Alun Cairns hilariously set his position to the Welsh Select Committee:
Q90 Chair: This cut that has been promised at 50%—50% on the tolls as they are in 2018 but still 50%—is absolutely guaranteed, isn’t it?
Alun Cairns: That is the Government proposal but there is a consultation going on to how that can be achieved.
Q91 Chair: So it is not quite guaranteed?
Alun Cairns: The announcement has been made in Budget 2015, I think it was, or 2014, and it is something that is Government policy.
Q93 Paul Flynn: Severn Bridge tolls started four years before you were born, Secretary of State. Do you expect them to continue when you reach retirement age?
Alun Cairns: Clearly I would hope, Mr Flynn, that you would accept that the 50% reduction that is proposed, subject to a consultation and so on, is a welcome step.
Q94 Paul Flynn: There was a fascinating poll finding that said that 50% of the population didn’t understand what 50% means. You have been quoted as saying that the toll should be £3.70. How is that 50% of £6.70?
Alun Cairns: I was talking about of that order and I talked about it by the time the bridge comes into public ownership for which there will be an inflationary fee.
Q95 Paul Flynn: In my view, the people of Wales are being ripped off by having one of the few stretches of motorway, which the Severn Bridges are, tolled and this has gone on for all these years now and because of the deals done a long time ago by a previous generation. There seems to be absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t become a national responsibility and the psychological barrier to south Wales, which is very damaging, could be removed.
Alun Cairns: I am governed by the Act of Parliament and the Act of Parliament will have struck a deal with the Severn Bridge company. We have an obligation in order to deliver that but I would hope that reducing the tolls by half is seen as a very positive step, although there will be a debt that remains outstanding. It demonstrates the scale of the project.
Q96 Paul Flynn: You stand by the figure of £3.70?
Alun Cairns: I would say wait until the consultation goes out.
That posture did not last long. After checking their maths, they reduced the planned toll to less than 50%
The Trinity of Snake Oil Salesmen consisted of Chris Grayling, David Davies and Alan Cairns posed at the Severn Bridge and announced the 'Good News' that Severn Bridges toll would be set at the bargain rate of £3.00! Hurrah! But that was for the long term future.
But it was no bargain because next year the tolls should be nil. It was an attempt to con us. The snap General Election forced a re-think on the Tory Trinity. Today they will announced that they have seen the Labour Light and will resist temptation to continue milking the cash cow of tolls double taxation. It will be announced with a blast of Tory self-satisfaction in Newport today. (no. I have not been invited.)
Will anyone ask if election opportunism played a part in their volte-face?
Tory Toll junkies are hooked on the Highway Robbery that forces local people into paying double taxation. While the Severn Bridges were in private hands the deal to pay tolls was resented but tolerated. In early 2018, the bridges will become public property like the rest of the motorway system. They should be maintained and financed in the same way as all other public roads.
For 52 years, we have paid twice. First through our taxes for the roads system. Secondly through the toll payments. The Government want to continue to milk the cash cow of tolls. There is an overwhelming case for abolishing the tolls altogether. At a stroke an injustice would end and the expense and psychological barrier to accessing Wales would be gone.
£billions of our taxes are paid to build, run and maintains the UK's road system. The Severn Bridges costs and debts are national responsibilities when they become public property. Wales has a history of attacking unjust tolls by the Hosts of Rebecca. It's time the spirit of the 1839 was aroused again.
16th May 2017
Th Tories 2017 election bribe was an unconditional promise to end the tolls. As a bribe it failed. Their ambition was to gain 7 Labour seats. They lost three of their own to Labour and every sitting Labour MP increased their majorities. They cannot mange a simple election bribe efficiently.
The Severn Bridges Act 1992 set out framework to award private contract to build a much needed second Severn crossing. Severn River Crossings built the bridge with the powerto charge tolls until revenue of £1.029 billion is raised or for a maximum of 35 years. Wales has paid extortionate annually increasing tolls since.
The debt is almost paid, the concession contract is coming to An end. In the next year the crossings will return to public ownership. Legal power to levy charges ends with the contact.
The Act is clear and tolls must cease. The Crossings have an estimated annual running cost of £15m. As with any other road belonging to the Department for Transport maintenance costs are unavoidable. Road users already cover these maintenance costs with road tax. Further tolls amount to unreasonable and duplicate charges
12th September 2017
The Cairns Huckster team are back. Tolls are to be ‘CUT’ to £2.60 MORE than Cairns promised on January 17th. Not to reduce it to that level would be illegal. The reduction is because the bridges after next January will not be liable to VAT. There is no choice. But Alun Cairns still has no date for delivering on his election bribe of £00.00 tolls.
No charge is necessary after January 2018. We have discharged our debt. It is no longer a toll, it’s a CAIRNS TAX.