POOLE councillor and former town mayor Phil Eades has slammed proposals to increase toll fares on the Sandbanks ferry.

Ferry operator Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company submitted an application, earlier this year, to the Department for Transport (DfT) to raise fares.

If approved the foot passenger and cycle charge would double to £2, with car tolls increasing to £6 and HGV and buses costing £12 per crossing.

Currently, cars travel for £4.30, while buses and HGVs travel for £8.60.

The ferry operators argue prices rises are necessary to meet increased running costs. They also say the eventual replacement of the current ferry also needs to be considered.

However, Cllr Eades - who has written to the DfT to make a formal objection to the proposed price hike - has questioned the company's claims that toll increases are needed to fund a replacement ferry.

Cllr Eades also described it as "incredible" that the only way the company can see replacing the current ferry is to buy one outright.

"Surely the transport industry - airliners, train operating companies, hauliers - do not have to work on this basis. Why can the new motor ferry not be leased as airplanes, trains, trucks, refuse vehicles, buses and coaches are?

"There is absolutely no justification for the proposed huge increases in tolls when the company has not provided details of any other method of replacing the motor ferry in 2026."

Purbeck District Council has already voiced concerns the increases will impact a large number of residents, who live and work both sides of Poole Harbour.

Meanwhile, Cllr Eades added: "Every additional penny taken from the local economy hits our local residents and the tourism economy particularly of the Isle of Purbeck.

"It should be the role of the Department for Transport to ensure that any rises in ferry tolls are kept to a minimum, certainly no greater than 3 per cent per annum, and that the company use every effort to finance the replacement ferry in 2026 in a manner that does not cost users too much either in the interim or subsequent to its introduction."