Increasing toll charges could handicap Bristol Cardiff joint success

Bruton Knowles partners Paul Matthews (left) and Michael Rees

Bruton Knowles partners Paul Matthews (left) and Michael Rees

Increasing toll charges on the Severn Bridge could handicap high level moves aimed at pulling Bristol and Cardiff’s business communities closer.

Commercial property specialist Bruton Knowles is backing civic leaders’ efforts aimed at encouraging the two cities to work more closely together – creating a powerful regional bloc capable of challenging London, the South East and the North.

Head of the Bristol office Paul Matthews said civic leaders and business chiefs on both sides of the bridge shared a vision of closer cooperation – but further increases in bridge tolls would only serve to push the two cities further apart.

He said: “We are right behind moves by the respective city leaderships to work more closely together rather than try and score points off one another.

“We fully support Bristol Mayor George Ferguson’s view that the respective cities will be more effective working together in the face of increasing competition.”

Speaking at a specially convened meeting of civic and business leaders recently, Mayor Ferguson said the Seven Bridge should be the symbol of closer cooperation between the two cities.

Paul Matthews went on: “Toll charges on the Severn Bridge are one of the biggest obstacles to greater cooperation between the two cities and will have to be looked at very carefully if this shared vision is ever going to amount to anything more than wishful thinking.”

He said although Bristol was on the up the city could do with taking a leaf out of Cardiff’s book when it comes to traffic management.

“Bristol is the most congested city in Britain with some of the slowest traffic.

“Cardiff, on the other hand, has created priority flows for traffic at rush hour, with the object of easing the flow in and out of the city in the morning and evening respectively to get traffic away from the city.”