TOLLS on the Cleddau Bridge could be scrapped by April next year, the Western Telegraph has learned.

A council spokesman said that the aim is for the tolls to be scrapped by Sunday, March 31, 2019.

The proposal will need to go before the council to be ratified before the date is confirmed.

The tolls - 75p for a car - are long said to have cut the county in two and have been the subject of repeated campaigns and questions in both Pembrokeshire County Council and the Senedd.

Plans to scrap the tolls were set out in October last year, with an initial plan to remove them by 2020.

Staff on duty at the Cleddau Bridge will be given an update on the discussions by senior officers this afternoon.

While bridge maintenance staff are not affected by the changes, a number of roles will be subject to redundancy procedures.

In a statement issued by Pembrokeshire County Council, a spokesman said that an in-principal agreement had been reached with the Welsh Government.

The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Councillor Paul Miller, said: “I am pleased to be able to report that we remain on track to abolish the Cleddau Bridge tolls early next year.

“Abolishing the tolls has been a priority both for me and this administration since taking office and I’m pleased we are continuing to deliver on our commitments to the people of Pembrokeshire.

“The tolls are, without question, an unwelcome barrier to trade in Pembrokeshire and removing that barrier - which currently almost perfectly divides the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone - represents a very positive development for the county.

“Individuals who need to cross the bridge every day for work will, from April, save at least £6 a week on their crossings. That could easily add up to an extra £270 a year in people’s pockets.

“Officers have put a lot of work into these discussions over a number of months as have colleagues at Welsh Government and I’d like to place on record my thanks to them. There’s more work to do before April but we remain on track.”

A Council spokesman said: “We will make every effort to redeploy any staff facing redundancy as a result of the tolls being abolished. This will however be subject to an alternative suitable and available role being available elsewhere within the Authority.”

Marc Tierney, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire, wrote to the Welsh Government earlier this year, asking for reassurance that the tolls would be removed by 2020.

In response, Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, said: “By the end of 2018, the Cleddau Bridge will be the only remaining toll bridge in Wales.

“A study commissioned through Pembrokeshire County Council has shown removing the tolls will support the County Council’s economic development strategy, providing a potential economic benefit to the local economy.”

He added: “Ministers have agreed a sum of £2 million in the draft budget for 2019/20 for the removal of the tolls.”

Mr Skates said that the Welsh government are in discussion with the council to establish the ongoing costs of maintaining the bridge.