A CAMPAIGN demanding the government reverse its decision to sell the Dartford Crossing has been launched.

In December the government outlined plans to sell the Dartford Crossing to a private company this summer, causing outrage among motorists across north Kent.

They fear the business which buys the crossing will raise the toll, which for a car is currently £1.50 for standard fare and £1 with a Dart-tag discount.

Now the local Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign against the sale, calling for whichever political party wins the general election to promise not to sell the crossing.

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Dartford, James Willis, said: “The Dartford Crossing was supposed to be free after the tolls had paid off the construction costs in 2003.

“But now Labour want to sell off the crossing to a private company, who are likely to increase toll charges to maximise their profits.

“Residents are furious, and rightly so, and together we will continue to fight these plans.”

News Shopper: James Willis, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Dartford, has launched the petition against the crossing sale

The Lib Dems have sent 10,000 leaflets to north Kent homes urging people to sign their petition against the sale, which was launched this weekend and already has around 400 signatures.

They are also holding a public meeting at the Hilton hotel in Masthead Close, Dartford, at 6.30pm on February 4 to encourage more local people to join the campaign.

In the last financial year 51,662,878 vehicles used the bridge, generating around £67.3m for the government from the tolls.

The government says any contract to sell the crossing over the Thames to a private company will forbid excessive toll charges.

However, a spokesman for motorist group the AA said it was unlikely a private company would buy the bridge and not maintain the tolls or even raise them.

Gravesham Council leader Councillor Mike Snelling and Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite, both Conservatives, are both against selling the crossing.

Cllr Snelling said: “The crossing could go to a foreign purchaser and the government promise there will be absolute control on the running of the bridge and toll could prove to be an illusion.”

Gravesend resident Mike Cubitt has been using the crossing since 1997 and says he will sign the petition against selling it.

The 65-year-old, of Townfield Corner, said: “Rather than sell it, the government should make it a toll through the tunnel and free across the bridge.

“A lot of tankers use the crossing, so for safety’s sake the tunnel should be tolled so there is an element of control.”

Dartford resident Quentin Williamson has condemned the government for planning to sell the crossing for its own financial gain after motorists paid for its construction with the toll.

The 51-year-old, of Sussex Road, believes the campaign against the sale could make a difference, saying: "The constant dripping wears away a stone."

To sign the petition, go to campaigns.libdems.org.uk/stopdartfordbridgeripoff