SWING bridge openings during rush hour in Warrington have increased by more than 40 per cent from 2012 to 2013, it has been revealed.

Warrington Borough Council reported that the number has increased from 76 in 2012 to 108 in 2013 - an increase of 42 per cent.

Senior council officials are currently preparing to meet with bosses at Peel Ports, the company who owns and operates the swing bridges in Latchford, Walton and Stockton Heath over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Council officials called for an urgent meeting last week with the company to discuss the council’s ‘reasonable proposals’ to alleviate the problems.

The council’s cabinet member for highways, Clr Linda Dirir, said Peel Ports must commit to minimising the disruption.

She added: “We now need Peel to agree to limit the number of sailings in the peak period to a level of 100 a year or below.”

Clr Dirir outlined a number of proposals, which the council believe will seek to reduce the problems caused by the opening of swing bridges.

This includes Peel Ports signing the memorandum of understanding, which would commit themselves to sailings during rush hour to below 100 a year.

Clr Dirir said: “It’s vital that Peel agree to the council’s very reasonable proposals. After all, at one of our meetings last year, Gary Hodgson, Peel Ports’ chief operating officer, said in public that he saw any sailings by non-urgent vessels in the peak hours as a company failure.”

She added: “We also want to see them commit to improving the mechanisms of their bridges in order to make them swing faster so they’ll be open for shorter periods of time, minimising the disruption caused every time they open.

“The council does acknowledge the need to work in partnership and we have committed to introducing a system to provide advanced warning of planned shipping movements to stakeholders through the use of an early warning system.”