‘Tories let­ting area down’

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page -

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.”

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