UPDATED: 150 toll booth staff could be made redundant when free-flow system comes in at Dartford Crossing (From This Is Local London)
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UPDATED: 150 toll booth staff could be made redundant when free-flow system comes in at Dartford Crossing
This is how the Dartford Crossing free-flow toll system will look when the scheme is introduced on October 26 this year, it has been revealed.
It has also been confirmed to the News Shopper that Connect Plus Services (CPS), which employs staff at the Dartford Crossing, has commenced a redundancy consultation period with 150 of its staff who run the present toll booths.
A spokesman said: “This change is required to align the resources to meet the future needs of the M25 following the planned introduction of Dartford Free Flow by the Highways Agency in October 2014.
“As part of the consultation process a full support package will be available and redeployment opportunities will be explored.”
Fees for drivers using the crossing are also on the up- cars will have to pay £2.50 per crossing, it will go up to £3 for two-axle vehicles and £6 for HGVs once free-flow charging is implemented.
APNR technology, similar to how charges are collected for the London Congestion charge, will be used to register the number plates of cars and other vehicles using the Dartford Crossing.
The free-flow system means drivers will no longer have to pay charges at the barrier and payment will be taken remotely by methods including via text message and online.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson revealed the details to the News Shopper and said 'at least something was being done to cut down the congestion and pollution'.
He said: "This is the first time since the bridge was built that something has actually been done to cut down on the amount of traffic that builds up around Dartford.
"I want the tolls scrapped and I am continuing to campaign for this.
"At least this new system is some way to cutting down on waiting times to get through the crossing.
"This has been spoken about for years, it is good to see something actually being done."
Haulage companies based in Dartford have called for a local discount scheme to be put in place for businesses after a new resident's discount came into force on Saturday.
Dartford residents registered in the Local Residents’ Discount Scheme and anyone with a light-goods vehicle in Dartford can now pay a one-off fee of £20 and have an unlimited number of crossings each year.
Chris Smart runs Smart Freight Solutions in Central Road, Dartford and he is calling for businesses to have a discount like residents.
He said: "We spend about £7000 on the crossing each year. We have got no choice and have to use the Dartford Crossing, we cannot use the Blackwall Tunnel or the Woolwich Ferry.
"Most of our work is north of the river.
"It is ridiculous that businesses in Dartford get no incentive to be based in the area."
Ray Murphy from Intersped Logistics UK Limited based in Riverside Way, Dartford, has been running for 32 years, and said the new charges would add another £1000 a year to his bills.
He added: "Removing the barriers might alleviate traffic in the short-term but its not a long-term solution. The toll charges are killing local businesses."
Mr Johnson added: "It is not fair that residents and businesses don't get the same deal.
"The fairest thing for everyone would be to remove the payments for the bridge completely, there is always someone who misses out."
A new law has also been passed to allow vehicles which flout the charges can now be seized if they repeatedly fail to pay the tolls and foreign bailiffs could be used to chase missed payments.
A protest by UKIP also took place at the Junction 1A overpass on the M25 just before the toll booths in Dartford on Monday morning.
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