Humber MPs want support for toll-free hospital travel

MPs from all sides are being urged to support a bill, which could allow hospital patients free travel across the Humber Bridge.

Image caption Humber Bridge tolls were halved in 2012

Many patients in northern Lincolnshire have little choice but to use the bridge to access medical treatment at hospitals in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Humber Bridge tolls were cut by half in April 2012 - from £3 each way for cars to £1.50 per crossing.

Despite the reduction, campaigners say cancer sufferers who need regular chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions are being hit in the pocket by the £3 return toll charge.

Proposed new legislation would give the Humber Bridge Board greater financial freedom and could pave the way for toll-free crossings for hospital patients.

A bill was introduced to parliament in January, but its passage was delayed after the Tory MP and former Transport Minister Christopher Chope shouted "Object" in the House of Commons.

The MP for Christchurch in Dorset said: "I have got a legitimate interest in saying that legislation that may impact upon the national taxpayer should be discussed in parliament."

MP's anger

Mr Chope's actions caused dismay among some of his Conservative colleagues representing Humber constituencies.

Speaking to BBC Look North, Andrew Percy, the Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said: "I'm very annoyed. Chris Chope knows nothing about the Humber Bridge.

"I tried to stop him, I tried to sit next to him to stop him shouting 'Object', but he does this to everything and there's no reasoning with him."

The Humber Bridge opened to traffic in 1981 and has often been at the centre of political controversy over the rising cost of tolls, which have been blamed on the legacy of spiralling debt from its construction.

The Humber Bridge Bill is now at the second reading stage in the House of Commons and is expected to pass through the various stages of parliament over the next six months.