A landmark ruling which said Mersey Gateway users did not have to pay tolls has been upheld – which could see hundreds of fines being scrapped.
In April the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) ruled that the tolls were not legally binding because Halton Borough Council, the charging authority, had not specified the price of the toll charge clearly enough in the Mersey Gateway Road Charging Order (RUSCO).
The ECHO reports that the RUSCO had only specified a range of what the charge could be, for example £0-£2, which the TPT found to be in breach of the Transport Act.
After a review of that ruling, Mr Solomons, an independent adjudicator, found there were a number of technical and legal points which did in fact mean the Charging Scheme employed by Halton Borough Council was not enforceable under the Transport Act 2000.
However he did not find the signs – which were ruled to be inadequate at the earlier hearing – to be a breach of the law.
Mr Solomons said: “There may be room for improvement of the advanced signage but I do not consider that it falls below the required standard of adequacy.”
In total 547 appeals have been on hold pending the outcome of the review.
The appeal hearing applied to five cases where motorists had either not seen the signs or were expecting to see a toll plaza so were unaware of the need to pay online or by phone.
Those appellants have been found not liable to pay the toll or the penalty charge.
However it is up to Halton Council to decide what to do about the remaining penalty charge notice appeals that are on hold.
Responding to the result of the ruling, the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board said it was ‘disappointed’ with the decision.
A spokesperson said: “We will now take time to review today’s decision with our external legal advisors and consider our next steps.
“Since 19th April 2018 a new Charging Order has been in place.
“This new Charging Order now regulates the tolling on Mersey Gateway and it’s really important that everyone who uses the crossing pays their toll charge to avoid the risk of getting a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).”