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Cleddau Bridge debt a ‘ticking time bomb’

18091486CLLR Jonathan Nutting presented a notice of motion to full council yesterday (October 17) that the authority should review its tolls for the Cleddau Bridge.
Cllr Nutting wants the council to find a way of reducing and eventually eliminating the toll charges.
In a lengthy address to members, Cllr Nutting said: “The £55m national debt that the Cleddau Bridge owes to the people of Pembrokeshire is growing year by year. Yes it’s a national debt. I find it worrying that we are not addressing the 10% interest rate. The toll will never pay the debt. My view is that this notional debt is useful to the Council because it hides the £2m profit that the bridge makes.”
He added: “Tolls cause hardship, people can’t afford tolls. Cleddau tolls stunt business grown around the haven. I want proactive negotiations with the Welsh Government in this issue. Yes, we should all be very very worried. The Severn Bridge has a plan that tolls are abolished once debts are paid off, but we have no plan or long term strategy over the Cleddau Bridge.”
Cllr R. M. Lewis, IPPG, replied to the suggestion that the council look again at tolls: “We need to ensure we have enough money to maintain the bridge which is an expensive exercise.”
Cllr Bob Kilminster, Lib Dem, said: “Cllr Nutting has made a good point. We are working with Mickey Mouse economics regards the notional debt. This is confusing for me and the residents of Pembrokeshire. Tolls are bad. They cause businesses in Pembrokeshire a considerable problem. They are effectively a tax.”
Cllr. Pearl Llewellyn, IPPG, said “People who are disabled or elderly get concessions on the bridge. But if tolls are raised to £1 then it is the workforce who will suffer the most, the carers and nurses.
But regarding reports that tolls may rise, she warned: “If tolls are raised it is the councillors who will have to face the people of Pembrokeshire.”
Cllr Brian Hall, IPPG, said regarding the idea of reviewing the tolls: “These are stupid, stupid ideas which Cllr Nutting has come up with today”
The Council decided to defer the matter to a sub-committee.