Cleddau Bridge Campaign Succeeds After 33 Years
At last, Pembrokeshire residents and businesses can celebrate that they will be saving money from April. For a commuter travelling to Haverfordwest from Pembroke Dock each day, it would mean a saving of over £300 a year. And for businesses, it was ironic that The Haven Enterprise Zone was separated by a toll bridge. I pay tribute to the work of Patrick Jones and others of various political persuasions and none who over the years have campaigned for the Cleddau Bridge to be toll free. At last it is about to happen, some 4 months after the Severn Bridges saw their tolls abolished. I thank the councillors and officers at County Hall who have brought this about, as well as the Welsh Government. 33 years on from Patrick Jones' campaign, it is to happen in 3 weeks time. But we must also pay tribute to the staff affected by this decision as it is a sad day for them.
The Lib Dems have been campaigning against Cleddau Bridge tolls for over 33 years and today have finally succeeded! The image above shows a campaign leaflet we distributed back in 1986!
In 1986 Patrick Jones, Liberal-SDP Alliance parliamentary candidate for Pembrokeshire, led a march over the Cleddau Bridge to protest at the Conservative government’s failure to scrap the tolls. At the time it cost 50p to cross.
The 50-strong group of party members and supporters included a contingent of Young Liberals, dressed up in traditional Welsh costume as Rebecca Rioters.
Press reports from September 1986 quote Patrick as saying that Pembrokeshire’s then MP, Nick Edwards, had promised that the Conservatives would abolish the tolls if they won the 1974 election. As it turned out, the Conservatives lost. However, when they returned to power in 1979, they kept the tolls in place.
In his 1986 campaign leaflets, Patrick said the tolls were grossly unfair to those local people, who had to drive over the bridge to go to work. The tolls also added to the cost of anyone wanting to travel from the Pembroke area to Withybush Hospital. Finally, they made a nonsense of the Enterprise Zone located on both sides of the Milford Haven estuary.
On hearing about the removal of the tolls, Patrick Jones said, ‘I am delighted with the news. £3.1 million was collected in tolls last year. Anyone who needs to cross the bridge for work every day will save about £400 a year.’
He added, ‘I’m sorry to hear that there may be some redundancies. However, in overall terms, there should be many more job opportunities created, as the £3.1 million previously spent on tolls, should now boost the local economy and the Haven Enterprize Zone, in particular.’