Tax haven bridge sells for over £1m

A bidder has purchased a toll bridge over the River Thames, used by just under four million vehicles annually, at an auction.

The unknown owner bought Swinford Toll Bridge, near Eynsham, Oxfordshire, for £1,080,000 and will be responsible for its maintenance.

One of the last toll bridges in Britain owned privately, the Swinford Toll Bridge is governed by its own Act of Parliament which gives it a tax free status.

George II passed the act in 1767 granting private ownership to the Earl of Abingdon and its new buyer will not have to pay income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax or VAT on the bridge.

The Grade II*-listed structure stands in Conservative Party leader David Cameron's Witney constituency, and motorists must shell out 5p per car and up to 50p per lorry to cross it.

Located six miles away from Oxford city centre, the bridge has a gross annual income of around £190,000.

Tolls are collected manually at the northern end of the bridge. Although not collected overnight, the new owner could earn an extra £25,000 per year if he gets the chance to install an automatic barrier and pay machine.

Local residents have urged Mr Cameron to scrap the toll as the bridge causes traffic jams and pollution.

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