Cost to drive over toll bridge to go up by 733% (from 12p)

For the last 160 years, people in the north west village of Warburton have paid a modest sum to use a bridge across the Manchester Ship Canal.

In 1863 it cost 1p to cross on horseback or in a cart (equivalent to 18p in today’s money). It was upped to 12p in 1890 and the price has not changed since then.

However, a debate is afoot with the current owners Peel Ports wanting to put the price up to £1 – an increase of 733%.

The bridge is the only route across the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal between the M6 and M60 motorways, but has long been a headache for people in the village.

Steve Ellis, who lives in nearby Church Green, said: ‘Steve Ellis, who lives in nearby Church Green, said: ‘The bridge is a nightmare. When the motorway has a problem, everyone tries to cut through.

‘They don’t upkeep it. If you drive over the bridge there’s that many potholes you wouldn’t believe it.’

People who live near the bridge would get a 50% discount, but some want the charge to be scrapped altogether.

Steve said: ‘I drive over the bridge at least once a day. If they put it up to a quid, it’s going to cost me £4 or £5 a day. It all mounts up.

‘They say they can’t afford to upkeep it but the turnover of that bridge must be in the millions.’

Syd Rasheed who also lives nearby says the number of cars has trebled since he moved there 26 years ago and this has led to long queues.

At one point, they became so annoyed with the queues that they raised £120 every week just to speed up the crossings. And in 2018, arsonists destroyed the toll booth leading to the fee being axed for six weeks while it was repaired.

He said: ‘The bridge causes all sorts of traffic problems. At rush hour, it backs up right the way towards Lymm.

‘I can drive from Manchester to the edge of the village for 20 minutes then it takes another 20 minutes to get home because of all the traffic.

‘The air pollution from the standing traffic is an issue too. The village itself is lovely and it’s a nice little community. We are quite tucked away here, it’s just the toll bridge and the traffic.’

However, some people like Paddy Ruth, who lives close to the bridge, is happy with it.

He said: ‘We were so used to living somewhere where there was lots of people and noise.

‘It’s lovely and quiet here and the people are great. I love it round here, it’s just the quirkiness of the place.’

Peel Ports said the bridge needed to be maintained. They said: ‘The toll is the best way to fund these much-needed improvements and the current 12p fee has not changed since 1863, and which had to incorporate the introduction of a VAT liability.

‘Users of the bridge deserve facilities fit for the 21st century which will ultimately ease congestion, reduce tailbacks and improve the general flow of traffic in the area.

‘The current toll is one of the lowest in England and will not fund the capital investment needed to support the maintenance and modernising of the facilities motorists are in favour of.’

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