Agenda item

Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry 2024-2025 Revenue and Capital Programme


Councillor Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport) introduced the item and highlighted the following points:


a)    The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry were operated, maintained and improved jointly by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council on a ‘user pays’ principle, and was funded by toll income;


b)    As per the Tamar Bridge Act, toll income was ring-fenced, and operated as a self-financing business;

c)    The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee (TBTFJC) Terms of Reference required the Cabinets of the Joint Authorities to recommend the annual TBTF budget and Business Plan to their respective Full Councils;

d)    The financial forecasts supporting the 2022/23 toll increase had not predicted the war in Ukraine and its global repercussions, specifically fuel and energy price increases, which had driven cost-inflation to over 10% at times. This had eroded the planned financial envelope to provide a balance-budget;

e)    There had been no evidence of the anticipated return to pre-COVID traffic levels, with traffic at both crossings running at approximately 90% of pre-COVID levels. As a result, the undertaking had found itself with an identified reserves shortfall in 2025/26;

f)     It was noted that the Section 151 Officers from both parent authorities had confirmed to TBTFJC that there was no provision for financial support from the budgets of either parent authority, as other crucial services provided by the Councils were already under considerable financial pressure;

g)    This report sought Cabinet’s endorsement to recommend to Full Council that an application be made to the Secretary of State for the toll increase as described in recommendation 1 of the report (previously £2.60 -  to £3.00 for cars and pro rata for other vehicles and the TAG, previously £1.30 to £1.50, again pro rata for other vehicles) which would address the forecast gap in the undertaking’s finances in 25/26 and provide an improved level of resilience for subsequent years;

h)    Subject to the Cabinet endorsement of the proposed toll increase, then the report also sought Cabinet’s endorsement to recommend to Full Council that the proposed Revenue Budget and Capital Programme for 2024/25 and associated Annual Business Plan be approved and that indicative figures for the subsequent three years 2025/26, 2026/27 and 2027/28 be noted;


i)     A parallel report had been taken to Cornwall Council the previous week, where it was recommended to Full Council for approval;

j)     The proposed toll application to the Secretary of State would enable the parent authorities to set a balanced budget. The proposed revenue expenditure and capital works items were essential to preserve the integrity of the assets and to the delivery of the TBTF Business Plan, taking the service sustainably into the future.

Cabinet agreed to recommend the following to Full Council:

1.     The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee’s preferred option for toll revision of a toll increase on cash to £3.00 (previously £2.60) and TAG to £1.50 (previously £1.30) and pro rata for other classes of user, be approved and be made to the Secretary of State in accordance with the applicable legislation;

2.    The Joint Committee’s endorsement of the Tamar 2050 crossings programme of activity be recognised;

3.    The 2024/25 revenue estimates and capital programme and the draft 2024/25 business plan, as set out in the appendices to the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee Report of 12 January 2024, be approved;

4.    The longer-term forecast to 2027/28 was noted.


Supporting documents: