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MP blasts Government for dropping tolls down south but charging for Runcorn Widnes bridge
HALTON MP Derek Twigg has blasted the Government’s decision to drop plans to toll a road in East Anglia whilst forcing drivers to pay to cross the River Mersey.
He has campaigned relentlessly for local motorists to be able to drive over the Runcorn Widnes bridge and new Mersey Gateway free of charge.
However transport ministers have told Halton Council the only way a new river crossing could be funded was through tolls, which will also be levied on the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.
In a u-turn, improvements to widen a 25-mile stretch of the heavily congested A14 will now be funded from general taxation.
Mr Twigg said: “This is a scandal.
“It is just another example of the north south divide.
“How can the Government justify paying for the A14 improvements from general taxation while forcing Halton taxpayers to pay to use what is currently an untolled local road?
“Local residents are worried about the cost of visiting their family and friends, going to work and college and attending hospital and hospice appointments.
“I sometimes cross the bridge three and four times a day.”
Before the A14 decision, Mr Twigg asked Chancellor George Osborne to reconsider the tolls.
Mr Twigg added: “The Chancellor must announce in his autumn statement that he is going to find additional funding for the Mersey Gateway to allow my constituents to cross the river free of charge.”
Halton Council leader, Clr Rob Polhill, said: “We’re close to reaching a final agreement with Government on Mersey Gateway and are in regular contact with officials and ministers over the final details.
"In light of the news that tolls will not be used to fund the A14 improvements we will now be redoubling our efforts to persuade Government to use some of its share of the procurement savings to maximise the discounts available for local people.”
The proposed tolls will be similar to the Mersey tunnels, currently £1.60 each way.
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