It's true! When I found out I couldn't believe my ears; indeed, I actually had to sit down.
The Swinford toll bridge is for sale for £1.65million, apparently, and there should only be one buyer: Oxfordshire County Council (OCC).
OCC had the chance to buy it and incorporate it into Oxfordshire's road system back in the early 90s. But they didn’t. The opportunity to buy the bridge comes up so rarely - perhaps only a couple of times a century - that if they don’t act now we may have to wait another 20 years, possibly longer, for another chance.
OCC are likely to say they can’t afford it. But that’s rubbish. Yes they can! And it couldn’t be simpler. Make the bridge users themselves pay for it over a number of years by continuing to charge the toll for a fixed period (a number of years). After which, with the money recouped, they can scrap the toll, stop the highway robbery and get west Oxfordshire moving again. The Act of Parliament, which allows the bridge owner to collect a toll, doesn’t say a toll HAS to be collected, after all.
Do the decent thing, OCC. Buy it now. Buy it for the people you’re meant to be serving. £1.65million seems remarkably cheap to me, and in the light of the current row about MPs’ expenses is little more than beer money.
What I fear is that OCC will whine: "we can’t afford it", which really means "we can’t be bothered"; and yet another private greedhead owner will buy it, creaming off the profits from this cash cow at the expense of bridge users in West Oxfordshire, who will line his pockets every morning and evening with their wasted time, wasted fuel, and their patience while simultaneously damaging the environment with needlessly-emitted exhaust fumes.
Buy it OCC. Buy it now.