‘Tories letting area down’
LABOUR MP for Weaver Vale Mike Amesbury has written to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling for urgent clarification on his views about tolls for the Mersey Gateway bridge.
Mr Amesbury said it followed a comment at Conservative party conference from Wales Secretary Alun Cairns MP that Mr Grayling ‘fully understood the significance’ of abolishing tolls on the Severn Bridge between South Wales and Bristol.
Mr Cairns had used part of his speech to praise the Government’s decision to scrap tolls on the Severn Bridge, saying it would ‘boost the economy of South Wales by up to £100m a year’.
The minister said that ‘no other policy will have such an immediate impact on growing the economy in South Wales and the South West of England than our decision to abolish the tolls on the Severn crossings’, adding that he was ‘grateful to my Cabinet colleagues, particularly Chris Grayling who understood the significance of this policy’.
He also claimed that ‘anyone living and working in South Wales knows how important this is’.
Standard tolls on the Severn Crossings are £6.70 for cars and vehicles with up to nine seats, rising to £20 for 18 passengers or more and wagons weighing 3,500 kilograms or more.
Charges were introduced in 1992 under a 25-year contract to pay for the second of the two bridges.
Mr Amesbury said: “I never thought I’d agree with a Tory Cabinet minister but when it comes to the importance of abolishing tolls to local people, Alun Cairns is absolutely right.
“What is astonishing, however, giving his continual refusal to support free travel for users of the Mersey bridges, is that we are told that Chris Grayling apparently believes it too.
“If Mr Grayling understands the importance of this policy to growing the economy in South Wales, then I am demanding to know why he doesn’t appear to believe the same applies here in North West England.
“I have written to him demanding speedy clarification of his position and calling on him to stick to the commitment made by the Tories in 2015 – that the bridge would be free to users in Cheshire West And Chester and Warrington.
“Our area deserves the same treatment as the rest of the UK – if the case is good enough for South Wales, then it’s good enough for our area.
“This is yet another example of the Tory Government letting Weaver Vale residents down, whilst other areas of the country are given a better deal.”