Hull MPs have called for all Humber Bridge toll payments to be scrapped so that key workers and emergency services are not penalised for making vital journeys during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hull East MP Karl Turner, Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy and Hull North MP Diana Johnson have written to government figures demanding that the charges be suspended for the time being.

While all toll booths on the bridge have been closed, online payments still apply.

"Our view is that payments should be suspended altogether, as they are unnecessary and unjustified in the current climate," they said in a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps and Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury.

"Any revenue is likely to be much reduced in any event; since the government’s announcement of social distancing measures last week, traffic has greatly reduced on the Humber Bridge, and is overwhelmingly confined to key workers making essential journeys and HGVs maintaining vital supplies north and south to Hull and the wider region.

Hull's Labour MPs Diana Johnson, Emma Hardy and Karl Turner
Hull's Labour MPs Diana Johnson, Emma Hardy and Karl Turner

"The revenue retained by keeping tolls in place is therefore likely to be minimal.

"The move to online only payments is also deeply problematic in our view. It potentially penalises those without the means or ability to pay online, whilst placing an unnecessary burden on key workers who, after working long, hard shifts providing essential services to the public will have yet another task to complete.

"We feel that particularly our NHS and other emergency workers should not have to pay to get to the vital job that they are doing under extreme pressures to keep us all safe."

The MPs drew comparison with tolls on the Mersey Tunnels which were lifted last week by Liverpool's metro mayor Steve Rotherham.

They asked that tolls on the Humber Bridge be treated in the same way.

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"Metro mayor Steve Rotherham was absolutely right to say 'extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures'. We echo his words and make a special plea that the government act urgently to lift tolls on the Humber Bridge for the duration of the current restrictions on movement of citizens across the UK."

Last week the government heeded to calls to scrap parking charges for key NHS workers after a petition was signed by 400,000 people. The government will provide NHS trusts around the country with the money so that they can let staff park for free in hospital car parks.