I beg to move,
That this House
has considered transport in Cheshire.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. I am glad to see you here, and I thank the other hon. Members present for attending.
The debate is about transport issues in Cheshire, but we could not possibly deal with all the issues in the time available, so I will talk about two issues with a common element that has been causing much anger, frustration and consternation in my constituency and beyond. I refer to the River Mersey and the tolls my constituents face to cross it, be it by the Mersey tunnels or the Mersey Gateway. There is now no way they can cross the river for work, for family reasons or for medical treatment without paying a fee. Of course, there have always been fees for the Mersey tunnels, but not ones that discriminate against people because of where they live.
Let me start with the principle of the tolls. The fact that the Mersey tunnels have always had tolls does not make the tolls’ existence any more defendable. Indeed, it is difficult to understand why they are still in place, given that we have heard repeatedly from Ministers how the removal of tolls can improve an area’s economic performance—an argument that seemingly won in south Wales, where the Severn crossings had their tolls abolished; in Scotland, where the new Forth crossing is not tolled; and in the true blue Tory shires of England, where plans for the A14 upgrade to be tolled around Huntingdon and Cambridge were scrapped.