I have signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 171, which calls on the UK Government to extend toll-free access to the Mersey Gateway and Jubilee Bridge for residents in the Mersey-Dee area.
The EDM reads:
That this House notes that, prior to the 2015 General Election, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, gave an undertaking that residents in Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington would enjoy toll-free access to the crossings in line with the arrangements made for residents of Halton; further notes that whilst acknowledging that such a concession would have been welcome, it would have been legally questionable and unfair had such a policy been implemented, unless people similarly affected by tolls from Merseyside had also been included; notes with regret that in a Government Statement on 24 January 2017, it was announced that free tolling would not be extended beyond Halton Borough Council; expresses strong concern that this represents bad faith on the part of the Government in that it reneged on a commitment made by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer; notes that those from Cheshire West and Chester, Merseyside and Warrington who have to use the crossings to access their employment face a tax on their travel costs of over £900 per year; expresses further concern that the tolls would, in addition, discriminate against those who need to use the crossings for educational purposes or medical appointments; and calls on the Government to introduce a free tolling scheme at no cost to the local authorities concerned, including Halton, residents in Cheshire West and Chester, Merseyside and Warrington for those who need to use the crossings for work, education or to attend medical appointments as a matter of urgency.
This EDM puts forward the case for the toll-free access being extended, not only because it would be in good faith to previous political pledges made by the Government, so that people can save up to £900 per year.
This motion calls upon the Government to live up to its promises. It is plainly wrong for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer to announce that those living in North West England would get toll-free access only to renege on that promise. In signing this motion I am raising awareness that many people in Delyn use the tolls and that we should get toll-free access as well.
With the tolls costing households £900 per year we can see that a policy of toll-free access would help people when the cost of living continues to rise. Many businesses and individuals use the tolls be it for work or getting a hospital appointment. All we are asking is for those local residents to be allowed to use the roads without having to pay.
Improving the links between our communities in north east Wales and Liverpool would make us more competitive and help us provide more decent jobs. Pressing for better transport links for us has been at the top of my agenda for many years and this is just another example of how I can press the Government.