No plans for road tolls say Welsh Government as Plaid say they would hurt the poorest
The Welsh Government have said that there are no concrete plans for road tolls on the A470 and M4, after Plaid Cymru expressed concern they would hurt the poorest in society.
The government had asked for the public’s views about the idea of motorists in Wales paying to use roads in a bid to tackle air pollution.
Plaid Cymru however said that the idea “punishes” the poor and ignores the need to invest in active travel.
According to the Welsh Government survey, the suggested tolls would be on the M4 around Newport and the A470 around Pontypridd, two of Wales’ busiest stretches of road, with prices ranging from £3 to £8 for petrol cars registered before 2006 and diesels plated before September 2015.
But Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters said: “To be clear there are no plans and there are no discussions about road charging. Our focus is on improving public transport, active travel and car sharing to give people real alternatives to driving.”
Plaid Cymru MS Heledd Fychan however expressed alarm that the idea was being floated.
“Rather than offering innovative policy ideas that will truly make a difference to a problem that urgently needs tackling, the Labour Government has instead resorted to more headline-grabbing sticking plaster solutions,” she said.
“The climate crisis is real. Air pollution is real. Both require radical action. Placing tolls on one patch of road is not a radical action. All it will do is drive people to avoid the charges by taking an alternative route through communities thereby making congestion and air pollution in our small towns and villages much worse.
“It also punishes the less affluent who are dependent on cars to reach a work shift late at night or early in the morning because the trains and buses aren’t running at that time of day.
“Active travel is dire under this Labour Government. Those who are dependent on local bus services find themselves unable to reach hospital appointments, collect their children from school or reach their work shift in time. And that’s where the investment needs to happen and to make public transport and active travel suitable, affordable, and accessible.”
The Welsh Conservatives also criticised the suggestion that tolls could be imposed on drivers in Wales, calling it “utterly ridiculous”.
“The idea of having tolls on two of Wales’ busiest roads is utterly ridiculous, and will be a major kick in the teeth for hardworking people,” Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, said.
“Punishing people for driving an older car, probably because they can’t afford a brand new one, is simply unacceptable, and goes to show that this Labour administration is anti-driver and anti-growth.
“Drivers could find themselves in a dire financial situation by being double-taxed as the Welsh Labour Government have plans to introduce a road tax as well as these tolls.
“This is beyond comprehension. Thousands of people have lost their jobs since the pandemic began, and many families are under severe financial pressure.
“I fear tolls will only push drivers to find alternative routes, which will then lead to serious congestion and pollution problems in surrounding towns and villages.
“Labour ministers need to scrap this hare-brained idea now, and look at other projects, such as improving Wales’ shambolic public transport, to help tackle climate change rather than penalising commuters.”
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