THOUSANDS of motorists honked their horn at the Dartford Crossing to sound their opposition to government plans to sell it.

More than 5,000 drivers gave a toot on Friday (March 26) to support the local Liberal Democrats campaign against the planned sale of the crossing to a private company this summer.

They want the government to keep the crossing and scrap the toll, which they fear will increase in price if bought by a company.

However, the government is pressing ahead with the sale, with Chancellor Alistair Darling saying it is “finalising options on the sale of the Dartford Crossing" during his budget statement.

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Dartford, James Willis, said: “Our Toot If You Give a Hoot day was a success because so many people are furious with the plans to sell the crossing.

“The Dartford Crossing was supposed to be free after the tolls had paid off the construction costs in 2003.

“A private company is of course going to keep the toll and it’s likely they’ll increase it to maximise their profits.”

The Lib Dems have sent 10,000 leaflets to north Kent homes urging people to sign their petition against the sale, which was launched in January.

They are also planning another protest at the crossing and to take the petition to Dartford and Gravesend town centre to urge more people to sign it.

Gareth Johnson, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Gravesham, has also vowed to never vote in favour of selling the crossing.

He said: “This government has shown a complete disregard for local residents when dealing with the Dartford Crossing.

“Selling the crossing to a private company could make the hope of scrapping the tolls an almost impossible dream.”

In the last financial year 51,662,878 vehicles used the bridge, generating around £67.3m gross 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.

To sign the Lib Dem’s petition, go to