UKIP activists staged a tolls protest on the Runcorn Widnes bridge today.

The party’s deputy leader and north west MEP Paul Nuttall led the demonstration.

It was staged to highlight the ‘iniquitous tax’ to be levied on both the existing bridge and the new Mersey Gateway.

“The proposed £2 toll will be a stealth tax on jobs and business and it will put up the cost of living,” said Mr Nuttall.

“Businesses using the bridges will inevitably pass on the cost to customers and people commuting to work will also be hit in the pocket.”

Demonstrators waved placards on both sides of the road and said they won great support from passing commuters and commercial drivers beeping their horns.

“We had a great response,” added Mr Nuttall.

“Runcorn bridge crossings will have the same electronic technology as used to collect the London congestion charge and it will inevitably catch thousands of motorists out and provide a windfall for the local authority by way of fines.

“It is wrong in principle that motorists should have to pay to use a stretch of road, it is highway robbery. “We all pay our road tax and these crossings should all be considered as part of the national road network and be toll free.”

Halton Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said the council was investing £4.5 million a year, with a top up from the government, to offer residents free tolls.

“Our hands are tied, the government is adamant both bridges have to be tolled," said Cllr Polhill.

The government has stipulated that the new bridge could not have been built unless tolls were imposed to help finance it.