Lib Dem pledge ensure Severn tolls future will be General Election issue

The Severn Bridges return to public ownership in 2018 Credit: Julia Bayne/Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

With their pledge to scrap the Severn tolls, the Liberal Democrats have ensured that the future ownership of the bridges will be an election issue in 2015. They're the first party to say that a commitment to get rid of the charges will be in their UK General Election manifesto.

That's not to say the other Welsh parties haven't got a view on what should happen to the tolls. Far from it. The Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones has said they should be devolved to the Welsh Government which he said would reduce them rather than abolishing them.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for the bridges to be devolved to Wales while a former chair of the UK party had said a future Conservative government would freeze the tolls.

Plaid Cymru wants the tolls reduced to £2 and a 'discussion' on the future control of the bridges, although it too would prefer to see that devolved.

The Lib Dems are hoping that the vote-winning view is the one that business leaders have expressed today: that they don't care which government controls the bridges as long as the tolls are at the very least reduced.

Of course the Lib Dems have to be part of the next UK Government if their pledge is ever to become reality. That means there'd have to be another coalition and that would mean neither the Conservatives or Labour winning enough seats to form a government on their own.

Quite a few hurdles then. The Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams wouldn't tell me if the Severn Tolls policy would be one of their 'red lines' in any negotiations with another party, nor would she say which party she expects those negotiations to take place with.

Within her party though, she's clearly had plenty of negotiating experience. Sources close to her say the policy represents a significant victory for the Welsh leader over elements within the Lib Dem leadership which had resisted the idea.