Dart Charge: Labour councillor calls for fees to be scrapped for Dartford residents

Sacha Gosine, leader of the Labour group in Dartford, has called on the company who own the Dartford Crossing to let the residents of the town use it for free.

Each time a driver uses the Dartford Crossing they are forced to pay a fee for the privilege of doing so.

He said: “If there is a charge, I do not think there should be a fee for the residents of Dartford.

“I think there should be a charge for other users, as long as that money is being used to maintain the bridge, help with the infrastructure, and having some investment into Dartford.

“The owners of the crossing are showing no responsibility to the residents of Dartford.”

On average 150,000 vehicles use the crossing, which is run by Highways England, daily.

The Dartford Crossing was first built in 1963. Photo: Jacek Rużyczka

Cllr Gosine said: “In terms of profit from the bridge, I do not believe that Dartford see any of that, and given that the times we are currently living in, with the climate change emergency, I think the company that owns the bridge has a duty of care to help with the environmental issues around the area.

“When there is traffic on the M25 the cars come through Dartford Town Centre, to try and avoid the Dartford Crossing.”

The shadow council leader believes local roads are suffering because of the amount of congestion created when there is heavy traffic on the M25.

He added: “On average, once or twice a week Dartford will come to a standstill because of traffic which comes from the Dartford bridge. Normally because there has been an accident.”

It was initially agreed when the bridge was first built that the government would scrap the fees, once the crossing had paid for itself, which was believed to be achieved by 2003. However, more than 17 years later commuters are still being made to pay a fee.

The crossing, which was first opened up in 1963, originally as just one tunnel costs £2.50 for cars and minibuses and £3.00 for vehicles with two axis.

Commuters must pay the fee 24 hours after using the crossing. However, a recent FOI request by the Canterbury Hub to Highways England has shown that in 2019 2,435,990 penalty charge notices were issued for late/no payment of the charge.

Sacha Gosine believes the owners of the bridge could do more to help the residents of Dartford. Photo: Sacha Gosine

Cllr Gosine believes the timescale to pay the Dart Charge should be extended to at least 48 hours after crossing.

He said: “I think it is totally unfair that the fee is only 24 hours. Sometimes it is not possible for people to actually pay the toll charge for either a personal reason or emergencies, and they have to go through the process of appealing the fine.”

The Dartford resident is calling for the owners of the bridge to sit down with Kent and Essex councils to see what action plans can be put in place.

The Department for Transport has stated the charge will remain in place to help maintain the service of the Dartford Crossing.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “To maintain the current level of service the Dartford Crossing charge will remain in place for operational reasons.

“This is being kept under constant review by the Department in discussion with Highways England.”