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MP steps into new row over Mersey tolls

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WARRINGTON North MP Helen Jones has stepped into a new row over the controversial tolls on the Mersey Gateway bridge.
She is demanding that Department of Communities and Local Government Minister Jake Berry apologise to Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotherham over an inaccurate answer given in Parliament.
Ms Jones had asked Mr Berry if he accepted that the fact that people could not cross the Mersey between Warrington and Liverpool without paying a toll could be holding back the regional economy.
The Minister replied that he had held discussions with Mr Rotherham who had told him he supported the tolls.
However, there was now a question as to whether this was an accurate answer.
Ms Jones said: “I have seen a copy of a letter from Steve Rotheram to Jake Berry in which he makes it clear that he does not support tolling on the Mersey Crossing and would never have said such a thing as it does not fall into the scope of the Metro Mayor.
“This is a serious matter.  Steve Rotheram is demanding that the record is put straight and claims his views have been distorted and misrepresented. We need to urgently have the matter clarified and an apology needs to be issued by the minister.”
During the debate in the Commons, Ms Jones had raised her concerns about the impact on economic growth of having only tolled Mersey crossing. She highlighted the problems being caused by extra traffic going through Warrington to avoid paying the tolls.
Mayor Rotherham, meanwhile, has reacted with fury to the minister’s comment.
He has accused the minister of deliberately distorting his views for political gain and said it was “a total fabrication of the truth.”
In a letter to the minister he sakd: “Whilst we have met to have productive discussions about how we can work together to promote and develop the Liverpool City Region, at no time have I said to you that I support tolling on the Mersey Gateway.
“Indeed I have been critical of the former Chancellor George Osborne, who broke the promise he made during the 2015 General Election on Gateway tolls.”
He added that irrespective of the content, he would have thought private conversations between him and the minister would have remained private.

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  1. Once again, it would appear that Helen is learning that it’s far better to speak to a minister face to face rather than just avoiding them whilst firing off an e-mail or 50. However, quite why she is fighting Steve Rotherham’s battles and publicising them is anyone’s guess? I’m sure that he is more than capable of defending himself over what he said or didn’t say. A cynic might say that it’s a case of ‘any story is better than no story’.

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