MORE disabled drivers and students and apprentices living in Halton's highest two tax bands could soon be eligible for free tolls on the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

Halton Council is proposing changes to the Road User Charging Scheme Order at a meeting tomorrow evening.

New categories of drivers could be added to the list of groups who currently do not have to pay tolls - if plans recommended by the executive board are approved by the council and agreed by the Department of Transport.

Blood and organ delivery vehicles, unmarked emergency service vehicles, disabled drivers who are not eligible for blue badges but might qualify under other criteria, students and apprentices who live in council tax band G and H home in Halton and farm tractors could be included in the list of exempt groups.

Campervans and motorhomes are also set to be reclassed as Class 2 vehicles and pay the same £2 standard toll as cars. They are currently charged £6.

Halton Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: "The Road User Charging Scheme Order is a document we are required by law to publish every year.

"We have used this opportunity to amend some technical issues such as signing and tolling rates. This is the first chance we have had to change it.

"We want to help people with disability who do not have a blue badge. They will have to meet certain criteria.

"Although blood and organ delivery vehicles tend to be motorbikes which do not pay tolls, there are times when they have to use cars."

Halton Council is also asking Merseylink bridge consortium to review the £150 contractual breakdown recovery charge.

The proposals have been welcomed by Halton MP Derek Twigg, who said: "I welcome that following my many representations to the council that they are going to consider extending the Halton Residents’ Scheme to include those who are apprentices or undertaking full time education and live in Halton Council tax bands G and H.

"I continue to lobby government and Halton Council to allow all residents in bands G & H toll free travel across the bridges.

"I am pleased that the council has also listened to my representations and those of the GMB about exempting vehicles used for the transport of blood, plasma and human organs and will now exempt these vehicles.

"I have repeatedly raised the issue of Halton residents with small campervans. The council has announced that they will also consider classifying those vehicles as the same as private cars, enabling my constituents with those vehicles to become eligible for the Local Discount Scheme.

"I am delighted to see that they will also consider removing the anomaly that exists that affects a small number of my constituents who have a disability but do not have a Blue Badge and their disability prevents them from driving."