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Deputy PM announces new Dartford Crossing control centre - in Leeds

The French company that will be looking after the new payment system at the Dartford Crossing has set up its new £1 million control centre - in Leeds.

It was unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who announced that sanef, who are providing the scheme’s vehicle detection, charging and enforcement services, will be creating 300 jobs in the area.

The Highways Agency is creating a further 23 jobs at its National Traffic Control Centre in Birmingham.

The Dartford Crossing
The Dartford Crossing

Dart Charge - a new payment arrangement being introduced from October - is hoped to improve journeys and reduce congestion at the crossing by ditching the booths and paying afterwards online via text or in shops.

Highways Agency Project Manager Nigel Gray said: “Dart Charge will benefit the economy by improving journeys at the crossing, and these new jobs are proof that the economic gains from the project will be felt far beyond the Dartford Crossing itself.

“We are working hard to get ready for go live in October, and staff in these posts will help drivers using the crossing to set up and manage their accounts, which will be the easiest and cheapest way for drivers to use the crossing.”

The cost to travel by car will also be going up in October from £2 to £2.50, £3 for two axle vehicles and £6 for heavy goods vehicles.

sanef’s Charles Hewson said he was “delighted” to have been awarded the project a chose Leeds because of its skilled and educated work force.

He said: “Leeds has been chosen due to its significant experience in contact centre operations along with its highly skilled and educated work force and I truly believe this is the start of a long term and mutually beneficial relationship.”

In March, Connect Plus Services (CPS), which employs staff at the crossing, began a redundancy consultation period.

Up to 150 people could lose their jobs at the Dartford crossing because of the introduction of free-flow tolls.

Drivers will be encouraged to pay the charge before they use the crossing.

But changes mean motorists will have longer – up to midnight on the following day – to pay the standard charge.

The penalty for non-payment will be £70, with a reduced rate of £35 if paid within 14 days.

The £367million contract to design, implement and deliver the new charging system was awarded to French firm Sanef by the Highways Agency.

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