THE £391 million Mersey Gateway will not be built unless both the new and existing bridges are tolled, Halton Council leader Tony McDermott reiterated this week.

He said: “It wouldn’t work unless there was an economic regime on both bridges.

“The principle of tolling is not a new one. We have been flagging it up for several years and have had two periods of consultation.

“Everyone can come forward at the public inquiry and express their views on tolling.”

Clr McDermott was responding to claims by Warrington Lib Dem Clr Jo Crotty that tolling both bridges will create horrendous congestion in Warrington and increase traffic on the M6 at Thelwall.

She said: “We would see lorries thundering through Warrington.

“The Government should underwrite the building of a new Runcorn bridge from the public purse.”

Clr McDermott said: “Much as I would love to see a free-to-use bridge, it is not going to happen.

“As far as locals are concerned, we are very, very adamant that there must be a regime that allows for local discretion.

“This is a bridge linking two parts of the same borough. People cross the bridge to go shopping and visit the hospital.

“At present it is not possible to put a figure on anything to do with tolls, it is too early.”

A public inquiry is expected in May.