Dartford crossing tolls blow for Kent
LAWYERS have dealt a major blow to calls for Kent to be given a greater share of the money raised from the Dartford Crossing tolls.
Kent County Council has been told it has no prospect of succeeding in any legal action against the Government in the fight for a bigger slice of the £50m raised each year from charging drivers to cross into Kent.
County Hall leaders sought legal advice last year about the chances of taking the Department for Transport to court.
A summary of that advice, released to the Kent Messenger Group under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that lawyers told KCC it had virtually no chance of succeeding if it sought a Judicial Review.
The advice also indicates that lawyers believe the Government is under no statutory obligation to share any of the toll money with the county council.
As a result, the county council was told: “In the absence of a clear promise, assurance, agreement or course of conduct, it is difficult to see any reasonable prospects of success. The basis of the assumptions made by KCC falls short of the clarity of commitment required to make good the basis for any allegation of unfairness.”
The council has for many years argued it deserves a greater share of the money made from the tolls to help improve roads and transport, partly to compensate for the extra traffic coming through the county.
It has pressed the Government to honour what it claimed was a pledge to distribute profits to councils on both sides of the crossing once it had been paid for. But the lawyers’ advice places a question mark over whether any such pledge actually even exists.
The Department of Transport gives Kent £1m annually from the tolls for transport schemes. But that money comes in the form of a loan, which has to be repaid.