Halton MP takes fight for free tolls for local residents to the Chancellor

Runcorn and Widnes World: Mersey Gateway Mersey Gateway

THE fight for free tolls for Halton residents to cross the new Mersey Gateway and existing Silver Jubilee Bridge moves to Westminster tomorrow.

Halton MP Derek Twigg is meeting Chancellor George Osborne with a cross party group of MPs to try and secure more Goverment funds so local people can use both crossings free of charge.

His plea follows the Government’s decision to drop plans to toll a road in East Anglia, because it is an existing local route.

A £1.5 billion scheme to improve and widen a 25-mile stretch of the A14 near Cambridge will now be funded by taxpayers.

Mr Twigg said: “What is so unique here in Halton is that the A533 road onto the bridge is a strategic road, as local as Picow Farm Road in Runcorn or Liverpool Road in Widnes.

“Local people use this link to get to work or college, go shopping or visit the hospital, normal everyday things.

“This is a scandal. It’s just another north south divide.

“How can the Government justify paying for the A14 improvements from taxation while forcing Halton taxpayers to pay to use what is currently an untolled local road.

“A lot of people will struggle to find the money, particularly if you have to cross it every day.”

He commended Halton Council’s offer of 300 free journeys a year to local residents for a £10 fee but says the Government has restricted them to spend only 10 per cent of their toll income on the discount scheme.

Mr Twigg added: “My focus is on getting local people to be able to travel free all the time. I want the Government to put extra money into this scheme.”

Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans, Warrington MP David Mowat and Ellesmere Port MP Andrew Millar will be joining the delegation.

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