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MP pledges to fight for Mersey Gateway bridge tolls to be scrapped

Labour man Mike Amesbury blames North-South divide for region's tolls

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury has pledged to fight for the abolition of tolls on the Mersey Gateway and Silver Jubilee bridges.

The Labour politician said general taxation is the most cost effective way to fund major infrastructure projects.

He slated tolls as a ‘tax on jobs and suppliers’.

Mr Amesbury, who was elected in the General Election on June 8, blamed a ‘North-South divide’ in attitudes to spending priorities for motorists having to pay tolls for the £1.86bn Mersey Gateway bridge project but not for schemes close to Whitehall such as Crossrail 2.

He added that the Prime Minister has now pledged to scrap tolls on the Severn Crossing in the South West, where tolls have been paid for the last 21 years and had previously been earmarked to be halved in 2018.

Mike Amesbury MP(Image: Labour North West)

Mr Amesbury also accused former Chancellor George Osborne of not upholding a promise to scrap tolls for motorists in west Cheshire and Warrington.

He is now hoping that an alliance of frustrated MPs across Cheshire and Merseyside will be able to put pressure on the Government to review the scheme and find a way to ditch the existing tolls arrangement.

The former Manchester councillor also distanced himself from the New Labour era’s regular use of private finance initiative (PFI) funding in which private companies paid for the up front costs of large schemes and was repaid with interest by the public sector.

He said he was ‘against PFI’ and that ‘things have moved on’.

Mersey Gateway bridge(Image: www.fly-site.com)

Mr Amesbury has now vowed to keep residents updated.

He said: “My personal opinion on delivering major infrastructure projects is it should be done via the Exchequer and taxation.

“It’s the most cost effective way.

“Tolls are a tax on jobs and suppliers and it’s interesting when it comes to South East infrastructure projects you see that great North-South divide.

“It’s all well and good when it’s in the South East, it’s direct progressive taxation as it should be.

“When it comes to the North it’s arms behind the back.

“Direct progressive taxation is the only way to finance it.”

He added: “As an infrastructure project it was needed quite clearly but the way it was funded in my opinion is not the most progressive.

“It’s going to hit supplies, it’s going to affect small businesses and I don’t think people (in power) have quite grasped the level of opposition out there at the moment.”

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