Toll booth at heart of villagers’ traffic jam protests burns down
A HISTORIC toll booth that has been at the centre of a residents’ row for causing traffic jams has burnt down.
The booth at Warburton Toll Bridge, which charges motorists 12p to cross and can only be paid by hand and in cash, was reported to be on fire in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The booth has become such a bone of contention for locals for causing tailbacks that one of them even paid £25 a day to allow all drivers to cross the bridge free, thus allowing toll booth attendants to wave drivers through without having to stop.
The bridge links the villages of Rixton in Warrington, Cheshire, with Warburton in Trafford, Greater Manchester.
The Warburton Toll Bridge Action Facebook Group was set up to challenge Peel Holdings, the owners, to update the booth or scrap it.
A spokesman for the group said that in the short-term the fire meant that there would be no delays as people wouldn’t need to stop and pay tolls.
Andrew Higgins, the group’s acting chairman, said: “In the short term, we hope everyone is OK. We will be in no doubt that Peel Port will soon rebuild and continue to collect its toll fares.
“At least the local road networks will not have the severe congestion at peak traffic time that have been causing terrible delays to journeys.”
Many residents reacted to the news online, with some suggesting it could be the work of a disgruntled local resident. One wrote: “Maybe last night’s traffic was the final straw for someone! It’s like a dream come true!”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed that the incident was being treated as arson and that inquiries were ongoing.
A toll has been charged on the bridge for more than 150 years, and currently all vehicles wishing to cross must pay 12p, with a daily pass available for 25p.
It originally cost one person on horseback or in a cart 1d (which equated to 18p in 2017) to cross.
Ian Marks, Lymm North and Thelwall councillor, added that it was possible that someone had become fed up with the booth, adding: “I have no idea who is responsible.”
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that the fire was being treated as arson