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(page revised 18 September 2017)

WALES

Rebecca Riots
Severn Crossing (on a separate page)
Cleddau bridge
Other tolls

Rebecca Riots

Wales has a tradition of opposing tolls, in particular during the Rebecca Riots in the early 1840s, when those attacking the tollgates sometimes dressed as women. The name 'Rebecca' came from Genesis 24 - "And they blessed Rebekah and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them'."
The Government sent in troops to stop the attacks on the toll gates and to help arrest people. The attitude of the Courts varied between finding rioters innocent and sentencing them to transportation. Following the riots most tolls were reduced and some removed under the South Wales Turnpike Trusts Act 1844, which was promoted by Earl Cawdor, the MP for Pembrokeshire. Most of the other tolls were gone by the mid 1860s.
Links:   Wikipedia - Rebecca Riots   Angelfire - Rebecca Riots   Owlcation - What Were the Rebecca Riots?   Wales Online - Welsh History Month: The tollgate   Llandeilo - The Dynevors: Policing Rebecca: The 4th Lord and the Rebecca Riots   Historic UK - The Rebecca Riots   Llanellich - Sandy Tollgate and Rebecca Riots.

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Cleddau bridge

This is the only significant road toll wholly in Wales. It has been suggested that the bridge was built to serve NATO, but it is now mainly used by local people, with about about 4.5 million crossings a year .
The bridge crosses Milford Haven near Pembroke and forms part of the otherwise untolled A477.
It is a box girder bridge and part of it collapsed during construction, killing four workers. It was eventually completed and opened in March 1975. The estimated cost of construction was just over 2 million, but the problems meant that the final cost, net of compensation, was 9 million.

The bridge was built by Dyfed Council, but since 1996 has been run by Pembrokeshire County Council. The tolls last increased in 1993. Cars pay 75 pence, heavy vehicles 1.50, motorcycles 35p, and pedestrians and cyclists do not pay. Books of tickets can be bought which give a 20% discount on the cash toll. There were originally no toll barriers but they were installed in 2004 as many drivers crossed without paying.

There were complaints in 2015 that the Council accounts wrongly gave the impression that there was a loss.
The Council's accounts for 2016-17 (this is a pdf) on page 61 show income of 3,202 thousand and expenditure of 1,826 thousand, the surplus of 1,376 thousand was appropriated for other purposes.
The bridge has debts of 2.0 million, but this is meaningless as the bridge also has reserves of 3.0 million. These reserves would of course have been a lot more if the Council was not acting like Dick Turpin and using tolls for non bridge purposes.

There has been a suggestion that the Council is acting illegally and ignoring what the Dyfed Act 1987 says the tolls can be used for. Section 24 of the Act lists nine purposes that the tolls can be used for, the first eight relate to expenditure on the bridge, the ninth is "in the reduction of tolls which may be demanded, taken and recovered under this Act or for such other purpose as may be approved by the Secretary of State." It is odd that a clause that deals with reduction of tolls is interpreted so that the Secretary of State can approve their use for anything at all.

There was a campaign in 2007 started by Andrew Lye of Haverford West - Andrew's Blog. The campaign failed. There was another campaign in 2015 to have the tolls removed, but Pembrokeshire County Council, which is ruled by "Independents" refused to do so.

Links: Pembrokeshire County Council - Cleddau Bridge Toll Charges   Wiki - Cleddau Bridge   Sabre - Cleddau Bridge).

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Other tolls

  • Penmaenpool Bridge   Apart from the Severn Crossing and the Cleddau bridge this is the only one toll bridge still in use in Wales. It crosses the Afon Mawddach near Dolgellau and is privately owned. The bridge seems more like a curiosity than a highway. The toll for cars is 70 pence and the bridge seems to have escaped from a troll tale as it consists of rattling wooden planks and has a 5 mph speed limit. The bridge is closed from 6.30pm to 8.30am.
    Link: Happypontist Blog - Penmaenpool Bridge.

  • Barmouth Bridge   The bridge is at the mouth of the Afon Mawddach. The 90 pence tolls were removed in June 2013, partly because the cost of collecting the tolls was as much as the toll income, partly because when the toll collectors left they could not find anybody to replace them.
    The main part of the bridge is for trains next to which there is a route for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge has never been used by motor vehicles as there is no space for them.
    Link: Happypontist Blog - Barmouth Bridge.

  • Porthmadog Cob   The causeway carries the A487 over an arm of the Traeth Bach estuary. The 5 pence toll was bought out by the Welsh Assembly and the toll queues removed with the tolls at the end of March 2003.
    Link: Sabre - The Cob (Porthmadog).

  • Pont Briwet   The bridge crosses the Traeth Bach estuary between Penrhyndeudraeth and Llandecwyn in Gwynedd. The bridge also carried trains and appeared to be owned by Network Rail. A new rail bridge came into use on 1st September 2014, and a replacement road bridge - without tolls - opened in July 2015.
    The toll used to be 40 pence for cars. The old bridge was closed to road traffic in January 2014 and was demolished. Link: Wiki - Pont Briwet   Sabre - The Cob Pont Briwet.

  • M4 Relief road   The Welsh Assembly announced on the 7th December 2004 that there would be a toll road to relieve congestion on the M4 near Newport. A toll would have been a double whammy for those who already use the Severn bridge. The plan was abandoned in 2009 due to opposition to tolling and the forecast that drivers would continue to use the M4 as hardly anyone would be willing to pay the toll.
    There were then reports that tolls on the Severn Crossing might be used to pay for the scheme, but this plan also came to nought.

    In 2012 the Chancellor said that instead of tolling, the UK Government would let the Welsh Government borrow to pay for the scheme.
    In June 2014 Edwina Hart, the Welsh Transport Minister, announced that a scheme would be going ahead. The latest estimated cost is 1.1 billion.
    There is a lot of opposition from various groups who are opposed to any roads or who prefer a different scheme. A Public Inquiry started on 28 February 2017 and as at September 2017 is still going on!!
    Link: Welsh Government - M4 Corridor around Newport   The M4 Corridor Around Newport Public Local Inquiry.


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