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Business News Wales Exclusive: Impact of Severn Bridge Toll Removal on Businesses in Wales?

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Plans are now in place to scrap fees to use the Severn Bridge next year. With the tolls being an issue that has been discussed for many years Business News Wales turned to it’s expert panel to ask:

What Impact will the Removal of the Severn Bridge Toll Fee have on Businesses in Wales?

Matthew Sutton - Greenaway ScottGreenaway Scott

Matt Sutton | Director

The recent announcement of the removal of the Severn Bridge toll fee by 2018 is welcome news for businesses in Wales and also for the wider Welsh economy.

This long awaited decision to scrap the toll fee will strengthen the links between Wales and England and will significantly reduce the cost of doing business across the border. There are of course many critics who claim that the removal of the toll fee will bring about an increase in traffic and congestion along the M4 but for the most part the feedback has been positive.

It is likely that we will see the biggest improvement in business coming across from Bristol and the South West. It is also likely that the changes will encourage those who work in Bristol to buy houses in Wales as it is significantly cheaper which will undoubtedly have a big impact on Welsh businesses in the long term.

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Liz Brookes - Grapevine Event ManagementGrapevine Event Management

Liz Brookes | Director

It has been suggested, in a study commissioned by the Welsh Government, that the removal of tolls would boost the Welsh economy by £100m.

Removing the tolls will have a positive effect on the events industry in Wales. Having worked for clients in England and further afield we know that when looking for venues the toll can be seen as a barrier when suggesting Wales as a venue.

Wales is full of fantastic venues for all types of events and with the largest conference centre in Wales and the South West of England being built in Newport, the removal of the tolls will benefit the Welsh economy hugely as Wales becomes more accessible to event organisers.

We want investors to know that Wales is open for business and scrapping the toll fee could majorly affect haulage and tourism in and out of Wales. Wales will become even more attractive for day trips and meetings, no longer will people be put off paying the “tax for entering Wales”.

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Elaine Ballard - Taff HousingTaff Housing

Elaine Ballard | Chief Executive

Although there are no direct effects on our business if the tolls are removed, we welcome anything that encourages economic growth. As well as a physical and financial barrier, the Bridge can be a psychological barrier for Welsh (and English) companies, particularly SME’s. Expansion plans have been discounted because of the additional costs, but sometimes without analysing the potential benefits of the large market in the West Country and beyond.

Good quality jobs for our Tenants are part of our long term goal, and opening up aspirational opportunities available outside Cardiff helps us focus on what type of  ‘foundation level’ training we are able to offer.

There may be indirect effects on our supply chains – reducing transport costs for materials will be helpful, but only if these are passed on to us as customers. Again, SME’s may benefit as they will be able to be more competitive.

Overall, we’re looking forward to it!

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Business Doctors

Graham Leslie Morgan | Managing Director

The Severn Estuary has presented a psychological barrier for business activity for a very long time and the Tolls associated with using it has contributed to to the philosophy. Removal of the Tolls will save businesses significant amounts of money in the course of a year but more importantly speed up journey times into Wales. This will open up massive opportunities in the wider Bristol market place – a metro population of over 1 million and businesses need to be planning for how they could benefit now! Currently to send an average delivery vehicle across the Bridge daily costs over £3,000 annually which can significantly impact on profitability and competitiveness in many instances. That is all about to change.

Invariably those businesses in South East Wales specifically will be better able to attract key skills from the wider Bristol area and there is every chance day visitors to Wales will build without the cost barrier. In isolations it is fantastic news for the Business community and really presents new market opportunities for ambitious business owners. It remains important that pressure is maintained on Politicians to resolve the M4 Relief Road as the benefit of no tolls will be lost if connection around Newport increases with traffic getting there quicker!