WORKERS joined forces with residents to mount a protest on Monday pressing the Government to scrap the tolls.

A petition attracted 6,500 signatures.

Family firms who use the crossing frequently fear the £90 monthly charge for each commercial vehicle could drive them out of business.

One company says it will be forced to shut down.

Other self employed workers including tradesmen and driving instructors are worried about their livelihoods.

Nurses at Halton Hospital who live outside the borough have left for jobs in Liverpool because they can’t afford the £4 return toll on top of £8 daily parking charges.

Campaigner Karen Forde, from Scrap Mersey Tolls group, said: “People are already struggling and don’t know where they can get the extra money from.

“We’re losing nurses. Companies are going under and people are leaving work and looking for other jobs.

“This is going to affect so many people’s lives. It’s only a matter of time before people can’t afford to pay their mortgages and could lose their homes.

“We think the tolls should be scrapped and the Government should foot the bill.”

Firms are incensed after ministers reneged on a promise to offer Halton small businesses a toll subsidy.

Driving instructor Graham Cain, from Widnes, said three colleagues have already quit.

He said: “My biggest worry is that there is not going to be enough work to go round.

“All the instructors I have spoken to say they won’t go across the bridge.”

David Parr, chief executive of Halton Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “Government’s response has been clear and consistent. It is a tolled Silver Jubilee bridge and Mersey Gateway or no new bridge.

“The free flow tolling system will make everybody’s journey across the river and through Halton quicker, easier and more relible.”

The petition can be viewed at