CAMPAIGNERS have repeated calls for Mersey Gateway Bridge tolls to be scrapped after claims that motorists using it have paid an estimated £32m in penalties and fees. 

Scrap Mersey Tolls say the amount is considerably more than figures published by Merseyflow and has been estimated after the protest group made a Freedom of Information request to Halton Borough Council.

Merseyflow claim the figures are flawed and inaccurate.

Marston's, a firm of enforcement agents tasked with collecting unpaid fines for Merseyflow, added: "The figures estimated are completely inaccurate and grossly exaggerated.

"In any event, in all cases, the enforcement fees are set by law, and only apply after multiple unsuccessful attempts to collect unpaid fines."

The council had admitted to the group previously published figures excluded both amounts passed to the traffic enforcement centre and amounts retained by Marston - a firm of enforcement agents.

Scrap Mersey Tolls says it had been told by the council: "We do not hold the information in relation to Marston’s actual fees as this money is retained by them and is not paid into the Mersey Gateway bank account." 

The group's John McGoldrick said: "This £32m additional burden on top of the already expensive and unwanted tolls is not the only adverse effect of the penalty system.

"All drivers who receive a penalty charge notice, on top of the unwelcome fine, also have to waste time dealing with it.

"A large number of people will have been affected by this nuisance as almost 1.4m penalty notices had been issued up to the end of June.

"The effect of the penalty system is even worse for those who will have received subsequent demands from Marston threatening that their homes will be visited and their goods seized. This has caused considerable stress."

A spokesperson for merseyflow and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board told Runcorn & Widnes World: "The figures supplied are grossly incorrect and we call on Scrap Mersey Tolls to retract or amend this statement.

"This is speculation based on assumptions and guesswork and should not be taken seriously.

"Every three months we publish and share information on the amount of traffic using the bridge, the income this generates for the public purse, and also the number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) being issued.

"This income is used to pay off the investment needed to build the bridge.

"There is a clear trend emerging as we approach the second anniversary of the bridge opening, which shows traffic volumes increasing, the percentage of journeys paid for on time increasing from an already high 97%, and the number of PCNs issued falling.

"This tells its own story about how people are using the bridge and we are focused on continuing to improve our service to customers.

"You can find this information online at"