MPs show united front opposing Warburton Toll Bridge price hike


WARRINGTON’s two MPs showed a united front at the public inquiry into controversial proposals to increase prices at Warburton Toll Bridge from 12p to £1 – a whopping increase of more than 700 percent.

Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols and Warrington South MP both attended the inquiry at the village hotel to voice their opposition.

Warburton toll bridge, which links Rixton and Warburton, was first opened in 1863 and has charged a 12p toll since 1890.

Ms Nichols said: “I remain completely opposed to any increase in the toll after years of failure by Peel to invest in maintenance and improvement.
“These proposed changes will be hugely detrimental and come at the worst possible time given our current cost of living crisis. There is a strong case for removal of the toll altogether, but in the absence of this, the status quo should prevail rather than residents and motorists having to shoulder the cost of something that the bridge owners should be responsible for.”

Mr Carter said: “The approach road and bridge itself is in urgent need of repair however lifting the toll from 12p to £1 per trip to pay for this work would mean an extra £500 per year for anyone using the bridge to and from work.
“Peel Ports who own the ship canal are a successful business that generates significant profits from the Canal and in my view it’s appropriate that they also contribute towards the repair costs rather than putting all the costs onto motorists.”

But the toll bridge’s owner, Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC) who wants to raise fees from 12p to £1, says they “no legal obligation” to contribute towards its upkeep.
Its representatives told the inquiry a rise would secure the bridge’s future, but it was not obliged to fund repairs adding that the bridge had been loss-making “to a significant degree” over the last five years.

They went on to say that a number of pieces of historical legislation related to the bridge’s operation, including the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Act 1863 which led to the creation of the first stone bridge, the Manchester Ship Canal Act 1885 which authorised the construction of the current toll bridge, and the Manchester Ship Canal (Various Powers) Act 1890 gave the firm, which is owned by Peel Ports, the right to charge a toll.
They said there was “no basis upon which the statutory language can be read as giving rise to an obligation on the part of MSCC to contribute funds to the repair or replacement of the bridge.

Both Warrington and Trafford Borough Councils, who oppose the increases, say the “underlying crucial difference” between them and MSCC was in relation to whether the bridge should be self-financing.
Representatives of the councils said no changes to the toll levels in the 1890 act “reflected Parliament’s intention that the costs included in the construction of the new bridge were not intended to be passed over to road users”.
The inquiry continues.

Council confirms opposition to Warburton Toll Bridge price hike


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