Two MPs have called for the Warburton Bridge to be taken into public ownership following news that it could see a 700 pc hike in toll charges if proposed plans are approved.
Earlier this month, bridge owners The Manchester Ship Canal Company and Peel Ports revealed £6.5 million plans that could see Warburton Bridge’s approach roads, footpaths and tolling system upgraded.
If approved, the plans could also potentially see the toll charge for the bridge rise from 12p to £1.
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The bridge in Lymm runs between Warrington and Trafford Council boundaries and was first opened in 1863.
The price hike would need to go through a Parliamentary process and Warrington MPs Andy Carter and Charlotte Nichols have both said they would oppose the increased costs if necessary.
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Ms Nichols, who represents Warrington North, told the BBC she felt Peel Ports should ‘take its responsibility seriously’ by modernising the bridge before selling it off to Warrington and Trafford councils.
She said the move could then be operated "in the public interest rather than as a money-making exercise".
Mr Carter, representing Warrington South, said he felt that all crossings should be given public control and described the system that allowed Peel to control the ship canal's bridges as "archaic".
"I think actually the highways should be controlled by the local authorities and there should be free access across those bridges", he said.
Warrington Borough Council's chief executive Steven Broomhead said his council was not in a position to consider taking over the bridge.
"They are a large company and the council expects them to maintain their assets in order to benefit the public of Warrington", he said.
A spokesperson for Peel Ports told the BBC there was ‘no appetite’ from councils to take on the bridge but that the ‘most favoured alternative’ to its plan to raise the tolls would be for local councils to step in alongside the government.
"Feedback from the relevant parties suggests there is no appetite to take responsibility for the bridge and remove the toll charges", they said.
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