The Cornish Times received a letter from Nick Craker, Cornwall Councillor and Liskeard Town Councillor. It said:

“Councillors vote on matters all the time at Cornwall Council. It’s truly democracy in action. Rarely are those votes as consequential as the recent vote to increase the tolls on the Tamar Crossings. For the record I voted against the rise, and I will explain why. It was ultimately won however, 38 votes for the rise, to 36 votes against. 

“The Tamar Crossings are jointly owned by Cornwall and Plymouth City Council. Plymouth City Council had already voted to increase the tolls before we had met in Truro to consider our position. 

“In my view one of the reasons why this is in such a mess is the Tamar Crossings are one of the biggest political footballs in the South West. Endlessly kicked around, but never meaningfully resolved. 

“The question I think is this. What is the short-term plan and long-term vision for these crossings.  

“In the short-term, I believe the Joint Committee who manage the Crossings, need to radically look at cutting costs. Every penny that can be saved, should be saved. Between 2023 and 2028 over a million pounds of toll revenue will be diverted to the learning centre. As worthwhile as that might be, it is a service we cannot currently afford. 

“One of the main reasons the financial forecasts are so wide of the mark is the number of vehicles using the crossings has not recovered back to pre-covid levels. 

“Questions and a healthy debate needs to be had about the cost of the ferry; the frequency of the service and how it is operated in the longer-term. It’s not right to say it has all been paid for and that’s that. Somebody must pay somewhere to keep the thing maintained and in order. 

“Our MP’s on either side of the Tamar are currently running a petition to block the request for a toll rise. The MPs are also campaigning to see some funding directed from the central highways pot towards the Crossings, so this toll rise is not necessary. Central government, of all political colours, has not been generous to the crossings before. Let’s see what comes out of the hat now. 

“This was one of the main reasons for my decision to vote against the toll rise. I want more time to be permitted for the Secretary of State to respond to this request for funding. I certainly would not want to see the TAG discounted abolished or even reduced to balance the books.

“The question of who pays is a central one to all of this. The crossing users currently fit the bill 100 per cent. Should the government make a contribution? I think they should, particularly on the bridge where the A38 (a National Highways road) runs over the without paying a penny piece. That could then put the question back to the Councils who might be asked to make a similar contribution towards the ferry crossings at Torpoint. It’s ultimately a question of who pays: the motorists who use it, the councils or the government, or a combination of all three? 

“I don’t think we can blame any of those Councillors who voted for the increase for this mess, they did so for their own reasons which they can explain. Ultimately this issue didn’t crop up two weeks ago, it’s been rolling on for decades. 

“I do however think enough is enough of this whole merry-go-round and it’s time all parties got together to take the political football off the pitch and have a serious debate about how both the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry is run, and financed, in the long-term.”