You may have read that there is a proposal to increase the toll charges in November and again in April to outrageous levels. Residents in Thurrock are equally appalled. I am sure, like me, you think this is totally unacceptable. Last night we attended a public meeting held at the Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, organised by Dartford MP Gareth Johnson. Crucially, this was timed to start at 5 p.m. so there were no more than 40 people there. When I commented on this, and the fact that had it been later, those people who travel to and from work using the M25 might also have attended, the response was somewhat dismissive. I get the impression that they didn’t want too many people there …
We sat through various presentations with increasing degrees of irritation. The bridge was ‘paid for’ in 2003 and the government went back on its promise to stop charging then. They hiked the toll to £1.50 in 2008. We learned that last year they made £37,000,000 in PROFIT from the tolls. Plainly, Gareth Johnson’s stance is that there should be no tolls at all. However, the “Consultation” procedure which started in June and ends on 23 September (how many of you knew that?) does not even include that option. It was ruled out before they started the consultation. From that I deduce it is a TICK BOX JOB. They just want to be able to ‘prove’ they have gone through the consultation procedure. Impressed, you bet NOT.
The plan is to remove the toll booths and replace them with ‘smart’ technology rather like the congestion charge in London where you pay remotely and they scan your numberplate. Big Brother or what? They also plan to build another rivercrossing to deal with increasing road usage. One possibility is add another bridge at Dartford, other plans under consideration include at Swanscombe or even Gravesend.
According to the Department of Transport representatives, and the Highways Agency people there, the only way to get one’s opinions taken into account is to complete the consultation questionnaire found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-08 and return it before 23 September. Considering this is a nationwide consultation, and not just aimed at Dartford and Thurrock residents/businesses I was alarmed to discover that so far they have received 1000 forms so far, with less than 2 weeks to go. I cannot understand why an MP like Gareth Johnson cannot add weight to this consultation on behalf of his 75,000 constituents, and the same for the Thurrock MP at the very least.
Jeremy Kite, the Leader of Dartford Council was there and spoke up for Dartford residents. Councillor Patrick F Coleman, the former Mayor Dartford was also there. In my view every single Councillor from Dartford should have been there too. Everyone wanted to express their views, and the meeting well ran over time. Those people from the DoT and the HA could not have mistaken the anger at their ridiculous proposals. The simple solution is to remove the toll booths and allow the traffic to flow. Minimum cost. Effective solution. But no, they want to spend our money on expensive high tech stuff and then charge us again for using it. Someone is getting backhanders to push this sort of solution.
This government is determined to strangle its working population. We are faced with excessive rail fare increases, excessive petrol prices, excessive electricity and gas prices and now excessive tolls on the M25 Dartford Road Crossing. If, like me, you are faced with a pay freeze and your income is disappearing quicker than Mo Farah, its about time to say STOP. Have your say.
We all complained about the last hike in tolls and were completely ignored.
The same will happen again (way above inflation).
To demonstrate WE MUST CREATE A BLOCKADE. This is the only way the Government will listen.
To relieve congestion, all they have to do is make it free to cross.
This will never happen, because all they want is to take as much money from us as possible, when people don’t have any.
Fleecing the public is their intention.
As I said, we must get together and demonstrate.
(one commenter from Thurrock).