Coronavirus: 'Scrap Mersey Gateway tolls' plea rejected by government

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aerial shotImage source, Mersey Gateway Project
Image caption,
The Mersey Gateway Bridge opened in 2017

The government has again rejected pleas to scrap Mersey Gateway Bridge tolls for key workers.

Halton Borough Council in Cheshire said it believed scrapping the tolls was "the right thing to do" to support NHS staff, carers and other key workers.

It urged the government to reconsider its decision not to waive tolls on the bridge that links Runcorn and Widnes.

The government told the council it was "not minded" to do so immediately but vowed to keep the matter under review.

'Most rely on'

Council Leader Rob Polhill said he had taken part in a "robust conversation" with Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

He said the minister told him the government was "not minded" to remove tolls from Mersey Gateway "immediately".

But he said she promised to "keep it under review" and make "the right decision at the right time".

Echoing her comments, the Department for Transport said it was "vitally important the transport network continues to flow smoothly… [for] essential travel."

It added all parts of the transport network, including tolls were "under constant review".

The Labour-run council leader said he believed scrapping the charges was "the right thing to do".

"We need the permission of government to do this, so the consequence... is that the council cannot remove the tolls.

"Those who will be most disappointed will be the NHS workers, key workers, volunteers, carers and critical supply network in Halton, Cheshire and the Liverpool City Region who continue to go above and beyond to keep us safe from Covid-19 but who... will still be distracted from their primary roles and financially disadvantaged by paying tolls."

"These are the very people we are relying on most in these difficult times."

"We urge the government to reconsider their position without delay and will continue to press [them] to allow the council to remove the tolls."

The £600m toll bridge opened in 2017.

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