Humber Bridge: private bid to buy debt off government

Malcolm Scott at Humber Bridge
Image caption Malcolm Scott said tolls on the Humber Bridge would fall to an average of £1 after eight years

A businessman has unveiled plans to buy the Humber Bridge in a bid to boost the regional economy by slashing tolls.

Hull-based chartered surveyor Malcolm Scott is urging the government to sell the structure's £330m debt at a discount price of £100m.

In return, he said Treasury coffers would benefit from the upfront payment and then increased tax income from a healthier regional economy.

After eight years, he said tolls would fall to an average of £1 per crossing.

The average toll for a car is currently £2.70.

Mr Scott said he was seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss his proposal for a community interest company to run the bridge.

The Department for Transport would not comment on his specific plans, but said it was "fully aware of the region's concern regarding the Humber Bridge tolls".

Mr Scott said "constructive encouragement" had been given to the plans by the leaders of the four local authorities in the Humber region.

Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council commissioned a report in 2008 which found that abolishing tolls on the bridge would boost the region's economy by £1bn over 25 years.

'Financial challenges'

Mr Scott said: "The long standing bridge debt burden can be resolved to the government's immense credit, made possible by an imaginative approach by regional local authorities acting in unison with regional business.

"Then the bridge could, for once, be used for the purpose for which it was originally built, that is the free flow of activity across this great river."

Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker, said: "The Department for Transport is working closely with the Treasury to consider the level of tolls and the implications for transport and the economy for the Humber region and nationally.

"The review will take into account any views put to us, including those from business leaders, local councils, the Bridge Board and local MPs.

"We will of course have to look at the information from the review in the round, taking account of the economic assessment as well as the difficult financial challenges we currently face as a country."

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