Dear Editor,

What a rude ill-tempered letter from Edward McDevitt in England about the tolls in the Algarve (AR June 29). What a complacent ill-informed suggestion from him about what those of us, who actually live in the Algarve, should do about them.

He asks us all to”get used to it (the toll situation) and buy one of those boxes to place on our windscreens (a ‘transponder’ to the rest of us)”. In other words, he is saying put up with the Government’s folly and pay the tolls.

The trouble with that idea is that, as anyone who has direct day-to-day experience of their impact on the region is aware, most of the population of the Algarve simply cannot afford to pay the tolls.

It would be difficult enough for them in good times but in the midst of a national debt crisis, with Troika-dictated austerity measures in place, 23% IVA, high unemployment and many businesses going bust, it is just not possible.  

Perhaps because he doesn’t have to pay them in England where he lives, Mr McDevitt is well enough off to take Algarve motorway tolls in his stride, but very few people here are able to do that.

Because of this, most people have given up using the motorway and are, perforce, clogging up the EN125 – just what the motorway was designed to avoid.

The Government should be encouraging use of the A22 not discouraging it. The result of their persistent obstinacy is that, because of the stupid deal they have done with the operators, the tolls are costing the country money, not saving it.

That is sheer cock-eyed madness and I for one will continue to “rant” in protest. I think that instead of writing rude letters, Edward McDevitt should inform himself about what is actually happening here and consider fully the harm that is being done to the province and the country and then send his own protest to the Prime Minister.

I am sure that if tolls were introduced on hitherto free motorways in England, he would join the public outcry and even protest himself – unless of course he is really rich and can afford to ignore the difficulties the rest of us have. He would also, I suspect, resent insults and unhelpful suggestions from outsiders.

When he next comes here, he should talk to his Portuguese friends and acquaintances about the matter. They will support my view that the Government is maluco (read for example Michael Ferrada’s letter – also in the Algarve Resident of June 29). It is a view shared by most expats in the Algarve.

As for finding “other things to complain about” which he suggests, there are plenty. One is the proposed massive un-needed development at Praia Grande on one of the prime nature conservation sites in Portugal.

Another is offensive letters by people who do not really understand the situation they are writing about. Between my two letters asking people to write to the Prime Minister, a report was published by the Tribunal de Contas (Court of Auditors) which revealed that the cost to the country of introducing the tolls was €700 million – so far. A reasonable point of additional complaint, which Mr McDevitt would know about if he read the news items in your paper as well as the letters to the editor.

Norman Walker