On Saturday the toll for the Dartford Tunnel and Bridge rises from £1 to £1.50. For the mathematically illiterate among you (that would be the ones that support Gordon Brown's economic policy), that's a rise of 50%. Fifty. Per. Cent.
More than 150,000 vehicles every day go through the tunnel or drive over the bridge. There is approximately £2 million of revenue each week. When the bridge was built in 1991 there was a commitment to end the tolls once the bridge was paid for. This occurred in 2003, yet five years later we are still all being fleeced.
At the time, the then Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said that tolls would continue. He said: "We had a public consultation in 2000 about what we should do about the tolls and the public came to the conclusion the best thing was to continue the toll as a congestion charge." Which of course is utter bollocks. The toll booths actually cause congestion rather than prevent it, as anyone who uses the tunnel will tell you. If traffic were free flowing there would be much less congestion and much less pollution. It doesn't take Einstein to work that out.
Locally, there has been an outcry about these raised charges. So much so that residents of Thurrock and Dartford have now been given a massive discount and will only have to pay 20p per journey. I am sure it is pure coincidence that these three seats happen to be very tight Labour marginals.