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Bridge Tolls

Volume 974: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the income received from tolls against operating costs of the Forth, Tay and Erskine Bridges.

The information for the Erskine bridge, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend, is given below for 1977–78, the latest year for which published accounts are available.

Income from tolls£524,666
Operating Costs£416,000
Operating costs include the costs of collection, administration and maintenance but not such things as amortisation of capital or interest charges.In respect of the Forth and Tay bridges, I refer the hon. Member to the respective joint boards.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the outstanding debts on the Forth, Tay and Erskine Bridges; and when it is estimated that these will be repaid.

The latest available figures showing the position at 31 March 1978 are as follows:

Forth£17,621,775
Tay£6,366,379
Erskine£18,436,516
The trend of receipts and costs continues to indicate that the debt plus capitalised interest on the Forth bridge is unlikely ever to be repaid if tolls remain at their existing levels. Revenue on the Tay bridge has so far been broadly sufficient to meet all costs including interest and debt repayment, but this cannot be guaranteed at present toll levels. It has long been recognised that a level

of tolls on the Erskine bridge sufficient to repay the whole cost with interest would cause traffic to divert, and that the object should be to seek the maximum revenue. In the light of the Government's announcement on 27 July of their policy that responsible authorities will be expected to keep their toll charges under regular review and to raise them as necessary—[Vol. 971, c.

640–41].—I am reviewing the position at Erskine and have asked the respective joint boards to consider what steps might be taken to ensure that toll revenue will cover the repayment of the capital debt together with interest and maintenance costs. I hope to meet the joint boards shortly to discuss this with them.