Transport Secretary Philip Hammond defends rise in Humber Bridge tolls

Tim Iredale
Political editor, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The Humber Bridge has the highest toll for a bridge crossing in the UK

The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has defended a decision to allow an increase in tolls on the Humber Bridge.

From October 1, a single car crossing will cost £3 each way - a 30p increase on the current charge of £2.70.

The Humber Bridge is marking its 30th anniversary. It was officially opened by the Queen on 17 July 1981.

From the moment it became operational the bridge was burdened with debt, due to spiralling construction costs in the 1970s.

Highest toll

The latest toll increase was given the go-ahead following a recent public inquiry.

Car drivers will pay £6 for a return trip - making the Humber Bridge the highest toll crossing in the UK.

Image source, bbc
Image caption,
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond says that motorists must also contribute to bridge costs

The Transport Secretary told BBC Look North the priority remains paying down the outstanding debt of £332m.

Philip Hammond said: "We do recognise the difficulties around the financial structure with this bridge and we will continue to support that with the interest rate subsidy. But motorists also have to make a contribution.

"The increase in the tolls has been tested through the proper process with a public inquiry, that we ordered, and the inquiry decision has been that the tolls should be increased to make a contribution, alongside the contribution the department is making to finance the bridge."

Economic impact

The Humber Bridge has been used as a political football since 1966, when the Labour Transport Minister Barbara Castle gave the go-ahead for the crossing.

It proved to be the deal breaker that won the Hull North constituency for Labour in a by-election that some have suggested was secured by the "bribe of the bridge".

The economic impact of the tolls on the local economy is currently being reviewed by officials at the Treasury.

Their findings are due be released in November.

While the bridge is admired as a magnificent feat of engineering, some motorists would say the cost of using it has led to 30 years of hurt.