SELLING the Dartford Crossing could lead to tolls rising rather than being scrapped, according to a motorist group and council leader.

Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite says Gordon Brown’s announcement is “a major blow” to any hope of scrapping the tolls on the bridge.

The sale of the Crossing is part of an initial round of sales announced by the Prime Minister, that could raise £3 billion, and also includes the Tote, the Channel Tunnel rail link and the Student Loan book.

Cllr Kite said: “Once and for all it puts the lid on any possibility of motorists getting the promise that the tolls would be scrapped.

“This is a fire sale.

“They have been fattening it up for sale for years telling lie after lie after lie about what they have been doing with the Dartford Crossing, pretending it’s about congestion and helping motorists.

“You’re putting issues like air quality and health in the hands of private companies, and if I’m honest it’s likely to be a foreign company.”

The Conservative added: “It’s a sign of how low we’ve come.

“I don’t think you can humiliate the country anymore than Gordon Brown can, it’s a really sad day.

“Before you know it the tolls will rise.”

Last week we reported how the Government was to review the current tolling arrangements, after the Department for Transport said it was considering “a one-way charging regime” for the Crossing.

Motorist group the AA says the possibilility of tolls rising rather than being scrapped was a real concern.

A spokesman said: “Our concern would be the only reason someone would want to buy it is to make money from the tolls.

“We believe that if it’s sold there should be restrictions on what they could do with the tolls.

“It should not be a free for all.

“The prospect of future toll increases would not be good for the people of Dartford and those using the Crossing.”