Each week until polling day, the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News is asking readers to submit a question for all of the candidates to answer. The second question was “Do you feel the Mersey Gateway project is the answer to the area’s road problems and do you think the introduction of tolls is the best way forward?” My answer is below;
Since becoming the Conservative candidate in November 2008, I have given 100% support to the Mersey Gateway project. It is a vitally important transport and regeneration project for Halton and the North West. It will help alleviate traffic congestion, support local businesses to be more competitive, act as a catalyst for regeneration throughout the area, and create new jobs. I have lobbied hard with key parties, including Shadow Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP, to ensure the project is approved.
The Mersey Gateway project would make a huge contribution to answering our road problems, but is not the whole story. I would like to see further investment to re-open the Halton Curve and establish better rail links to other key locations, including Liverpool airport.
In relation to tolls, we need to be straight with people. Without tolling there will be no bridge. In order to toll the new bridge, we need to toll the existing bridge otherwise the it will not be used, and will not deliver the benefits we know it can. I know tolling is difficult to accept, that’s why my focus is on getting a fair deal for local residents and businesses, securing the maximum possible discounts.