Severn Crossings to be publicly owned from 8 January 2018

THE Severn Crossings will revert to public ownership on 8 January allowing tolls to be scrapped by the end of 2018, the UK government has confirmed.

Welsh Affairs Committee chairman David Davies received the news in a letter from Transport Minister Jesse Norman.

Mr Davies said it proved the pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May to axe the tolls if the Conservatives won the general election in June was “not some wild manifesto promise”.

"There has been a lot of public uncertainty about whether this would happen and I am delighted we now have a confirmed date,” he said.

“It is excellent news and I very much commend Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for sticking to this vital commitment.”

The Monmouth MP had written to the Department for Transport on behalf of a constituent seeking further details about the handover.

Mr Norman replied stating: “I am pleased to confirm that the bridges will revert to public ownership on 8 January 2018 and that all tolls will end at the Severn Crossings by the 31 December 2018.”

Mr Davies said he understood the government would be looking to recoup an outstanding debt of £63m it had amassed due to unexpected maintenance costs, meaning the tolls would not be lifted immediately.

“I have always tried to argue that this debt should be counter-balanced as a result of changes to the rules around VAT and industrial buildings tax, which saw the government receive a sum of £130m in extra money - but it didn’t win out in the end,” he added.