The company which owns the private bridge is preparing a submission to the Department for Transport to increase the toll from 40 pence to 60 pence.

The privately owned bridge opened just two weeks ago after being closed for 11 months for major repairs.

However, the cost of the expected eight month long project rocketed by £2millon and overran by three months because of the winter floods.

The proposed increase has been criticised by angry motorists.

Steve took to the bridge’s website to complain about the rise and said: ““How can you justify a proposed 50% increase in toll from 40p to 60p?

“You say it is to maintain the crossing - it has just been maintained for the last 11 months - what preventative maintenance do you propose to undertake that warrants this increase?

“If we are forced to pay this extra cost, we need to be told exactly what this extra cost will be supporting.”

Geoff Weir, Whitchurch Bridge Company Secretary, said that the increase was necessary to pay for the cost of the bridge rebuild that will be spread out over the next 15 years.

He said: “We have a statutory requirement to maintain the crossing forever and make sure the income covers expenditure.

“We have had to borrow more than we thought we would and it resulted in an increase in more than we were expecting too, so soon after reopening.

“In the end the bottom line is we have to fix the toll and be responsible to pay for the expenditure."

He said the flood was the main reason why the work overran, forcing the cost of the project to increase from £4m to £6m.

Mr Weir said: “For three months no one could work but we were still paying for the equipment and pontoons, the cost of the contractors and staff.

“People have to pay for the flood delays, we don’t have a fairy godmother.”

He added that if people wanted to challenge the proposed increase they would be able to make comments to the Department for Transport and he expected the proposal would end up in a public enquiry.

The Toll Application is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport by the end of the month and the toll would not increase until a decision was made.