ANTI-TOLL campaigners fighting to keep the Silver Jubilee bridge free for Halton residents have invited councillors to a meeting at 11am on Saturday, June 14 in The Wilson’s Hotel in Runcorn.

They have collected more than 16,000 signatures and vowed to take their battle to Westminster.

A proposed discount scheme will offer Halton residents 300 free trips per year on the existing bridge and the new Mersey Gateway plus a reduced toll of £1.80 compared to £2 for other drivers.

Dad-of-six Conn O’Dwyer, who lives in the old town and works in London, said: “Halton is my community. We’ve had a bridge that has always been free.

“Twenty five free trips a month doesn’t even cover a month’s work. People have hospital visits, shopping, school runs, visits to family and friends, sports centres.

“It will be a loss of freedom of movement. We’re not against the tolls on the Mersey Gateway. The new bridge has got to be paid for.”

Halton MP Derek Twigg and Halton Council leader Clr Rob Polhill have lobbied Chancellor George Osborne for free tolls on both bridges for Halton residents.

Mr Twigg said: “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.”

Clr Polhill said: “Every councillor in Halton is against the tolls. We have consistently argued for two free to use bridges. We argued this at the public inquiry but the inspector concluded both bridges should be tolled.

“The only body that can change this is national government.

“The council is investing more than £4 million a year to provide 300 free trips for eligible Halton residents and providing a free bus service between Runcorn and Widnes.

“We have always campaigned for a free crossing for residents of the borough and will continue to do so.”