Friday, 19 July 2013

A nice little earner!

Swinford Bridge where we moored last night is one of only two surviving privately owned toll bridges across the Thames. To cross in a car costs 5p!
Don't laugh! It's on a busy road and earns its owner over £100,000 a year. And it's tax free, all thanks to the terms and conditions of the royal charter that set it up a few hundred years ago. That's no income tax, no inheritance tax and - just like Amazon and the rest - no corporation tax.
Yes, it's a good little earner. So much so that when it came up for sale a few years back the bridge, toll house and grounds went for over a million quid. The daft thing is that Oxfordshire Council didn't buy it - it's a rush-hour snarl up on the road, irritates scores of drivers and, because the private owners can't (or won't) put in any traffic lights, buses and lorries regularly get jammed up with other vehicles on the narrow carriageway.
There is one snag - the toll operators are also responsible for keeping the bridge in good condition. I hope they're putting some of those 5p coins away for a rainy day.

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