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Dartford crossing penalty charges - how much do you want to pay?
DARTFORD crossing drivers are being asked about planned late pay fines on future free-flow charges on the crossing.
The Highways Agency is proposing fining people between £35 and £105 but has to consult the public before this becomes law.
Another consultation is also being conducted by the Department for Transport, asking exactly how the charges should be enforced.
New free-flow measures on the crossing are due to be introduced in October 2014.
They will include the removal of the barriers and the installation of cameras which will scan number plates. It is hoped this will speed up traffic flow.
Drivers will then be able to go online, call up, use text messages or retail outlets to pay their tolls up to midnight that night, or the following day with a 20% increase.
After two days the charge will be £35 if paid within 14 days. After that it will be £70 until 28 days have passed, when the charge will be £105.
Toll fees will rise to £2.50 for cars as a result of the plan. Other vehicle tolls will also increase at “broadly proportionate rates”.
Discounts will remain for those that set up an account and pay in advance. The local residents’ discount scheme will also remain.
People will have until January 28 2013 to make their comments. Both consultations will be available from November 5 2012.
They can have their say at highways.gov.uk or request hard copies of the questionnaire from Dartford Borough Council or Thurrock County Council once the consultation begins.
Roads Minister, Stephen Hammond, said: “By removing the barriers at the crossing, congestion will be reduced and traffic flow will improve for all motorists – but that means the way payment is collected will change.
“We need to make sure we have steps in place to allow enforcement against drivers who do not pay their road user charge.
“How and what will happen needs to be decided and that is exactly what the enforcement regulations consultation will do.”
Highways Agency senior project manager, Nigel Gray, said: “We understand how frustrated motorists are and that is why tackling congestion here is an absolute priority.
“The draft order sets out how the charge at Dartford will operate and how we propose to enforce it under a free-flow charging arrangement.”
Leader of Dartford Council, Jeremy Kite, said: “Most people would be happy to see free-flow come in.
“People should be at their homes with their families or doing business for Britain, not stuck in a traffic jam.
“But as far as I’m concerned asking people how much they want to be fined is a silly question.
“Instead of having consultation after consultation they should just get on with it.
“They seem to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”