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Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Ben Jones on Mersey Gateway

THE Mersey Gateway Project will be given the go-ahead if a Labour Government is returned to power. In a letter to Halton’s Labour incumbent Derek Twigg, transport minister Lord Adonis says the party is ‘committed to taking the project forward’.

But the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have hit out at the comments, with one would-be Halton MP calling the move a ‘pre-election giveaway’. Project chiefs on the proposed £431m second crossing, which has cross party support, had been waiting anxiously for a decision but hopes were dashed when a General Election was called last week.

The Government has now dissolved and no major policy decisions will be made until Parliament resumes on May 18.

But in a letter to Mr Twigg, Lord Adonis, said: “Further to your recent representations I can confirm that Labour is committed to taking forward the Mersey Gateway bridge, which offers considerable benefits for Merseyside and Cheshire.”

Derek Twigg said: “This is wonderful news for Halton and the North West of England. The Mersey Gateway will free up the road network and bring more jobs and investment to the area.

“It is vital for this area to elect a Labour Government to ensure this comes about.”

Conservative candidate for Halton Ben Jones said: “For the past 13 years Labour has ignored local transport needs across the country, including here in Halton. Nearly three years after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, people will be sceptical about the timing of this announcement.

“They will be asking why it has taken the Labour Government until the eve of a General Election campaign to realise local transport infrastructure has been stuck in the slow lane.

“Labour need to be straight with people about how they are going to pay for their pre-election giveaways.”

“To now promise a positive decision after the election is held is another case of ‘jam tomorrow’ and the electorate won’t buy it.”