There is a very short section about LTC User Charges in the Design Refinement Consultation Guide on page 11 (or page 6/53 if you are viewing the pdf version online)
“It remains our proposal to apply a user charge for the Lower Thames Crossing, with a local resident discount scheme for those living in Thurrock and Gravesham. The level of the charge and the charging regime would replicate the approach applied on the Dartford Crossing. Therefore, the need for a Lower Thames Crossing charging consultation forum as suggested at statutory consultation is not considered necessary.”
In response to this we would question how the Local Resident Discount Scheme (LRDS) will operate when there is an incident at either crossing, and traffic will need to try and migrate to the other crossing.
- If the LTC were closed meaning all traffic is forced to use the Dartford Crossing, then would a resident from Gravesham with LRDS be charged to use the Dartford Crossing?
- Or if the Dartford Crossing were closed so all traffic is forced to use LTC, would a resident from Dartford with LRDS be charged to use the LTC?
- What about residents in Havering (Cranham, Upminster etc) who will have to suffer the impacts of LTC why will they not be offered LRDS?
How does this distinction between LRDS for the two crossings assist in simplifying the decision making for the driver as to which crossing is easier for them to use? And how does this minimise the operational complexity between the two schemes (LTC and DartCharge)? These were both supposed benefits of the scheme according to the Supplementary Consultation just a few months ago. (Page 11 of the Supplementary Guide to Consultation)
Also since they are not planning or designing the LTC to consider how traffic will migrate between the two crossings when there is an incident, we all know it will certainly impact all local residents in the vicinity of and surrounding areas of both crossings for some distance just as we all suffer when there is an incident at the Dartford Crossing now, except this will be chaos on a far more widespread scale.
Tolls v charges
Since many have strong opinions on the charge for crossing at the Dartford Crossing, it is worth noting that while we can understand and agree that the original promise that was made was to remove the tolls at the Dartford Crossing, technically they have, as it is no longer tolls but a charge. Sorry to be pedantic but it is important that we are all aware and fighting this factually, so we want to share things like this to ensure people are aware of the technical facts, because there is no doubt HE and the Government will use facts against us if they can, so we need to understand the technicalities.
Something to also be aware of is that when it was a toll the money had to be used on the infrastructure the money was charged for, ie the crossing, but with a charge like the current DartCharge money goes into central funds to be spend on whatever they want. From what has been stated we believe this will the same with LTC.
On an environmental note, it is also suggested that if the charges were removed then there would be an increase in traffic using the crossing which would make congestion and pollution worse. If only they would admit that the poor design of the LTC which is not fit for purpose will also make congestion and pollution worse.
The idea of a percentage of the charges being for the affected communities
We have heard rumours and suggestion that it could be considered, or at very least we could (if we wish) request consideration of a percentage of the money charged to use the LTC be put back into the affected local communities in some way. If this is something you feel strongly about, it might be worth mentioning in your consultation response.
TCAG’s opinion in short
We don’t feel adequate info or consideration has been given in regard to the LTC user charges. If we have to have LTC inflicted upon us we feel:
- local residents in all affected areas should be given the option of LRDS
- LRDS should not be crossing specific, so that local residents can use LRDS for either crossing.
- a percentage of the moneys charged to cross LTC should benefit the local communities which are affected.
How to have your say
We would suggest using ‘Q4. – Other comments’ in the consultation response form for your comments on LTC user charges.
Remember you don’t have to use the response form you can submit your own response in your own format/words via email or letter if you prefer, see below.
Please only use the following official response channels. It cannot be guaranteed that responses sent to any other address will be included in analysis.
Online response form
Fill in the online survey at: www.lowerthamescrossing.co.uk/design-consultation
NB the survey will be available from 00:01 Tues 14th July – 23:59 Weds 12th August 2020
Post your response form or your own comments to: FREEPOST LTC CONSULTATION
(The Freepost address is the only text needed on the envelope, and no stamp is required.)
Email your comments to: LTC.CONSULTATION@TRAVERSE.LTD
Starting on 14th July you can book an appointment to speak to someone who can help you fill out a form over the phone, by calling 0300 123 5000 between 14th July and 12th August 2020.