Welsh-based commercial property experts are calling for tolls on the two Severn crossings to be reduced rather than cut altogether in order to help fund the M4 relief road around Newport.
With both the Conservative and Labour parties promising to scrap the tolls on both crossing should they win the general election has resulted in a torrent of approval from both sides of the Severn.
However leading property experts say the general election manifestos present a golden opportunity to not only make it more commercially attractive for businesses to operate across South Wales and the West Country, but to help fund what has been earmarked as a vital link for the region.
Caroline Jones of Bruton Knowles says that although scrapping the tolls completely would seem highly attractive, it would only prove counter-productive as traffic on the already busy stretch of motorway would get stuck at the infamous Bryn Glas tunnels.
Instead she believes reducing the tolls to say one pound per crossing would be a much better option, and the funds then channelled towards improving the motorway network and the already congested principal road links into Cardiff.
Caroline said: “Everything has to go via the M4 and the Brynglas Tunnel or the Severn Tunnel if by rail.
“However, we currently don’t have the right links needed for both businesses and people living in the area to get around easily, so before the tolls are scrapped completely, if the commensurate infrastructure is not in place, it will be a costly lost opportunity.
“The debate over the M4 relief road has raged for far too long, despite the Welsh Government having announced its preferred route for the scheme.
“We really do need to get on with it now if Wales and Cardiff in particular is going to thrive and compete against other cities in the UK.
“If not, businesses will have to look elsewhere and there is a distinct danger of economic development migrating back into England
“It’s good news that the tolls form part of election pledges as there is no way South Wales will be able to compete if we continue to charge commuters almost £7 a day for the privilege of simply crossing the bridge. For small vans and commercial vehicles the £13.40 charge is prohibitive and restricts movement.
“Reducing charges for small businesses will therefore make it much more viable to work either side of the Severn.
“We’ve said before that the charges on the Severn Bridge are one of the biggest obstacles to letting businesses flourish however these, along with the relief road around Bryn Glas, need to be sorted now, allowing Wales to compete effectively in the future.”