THE council leader has called for the Government to 'reinstate' free crossings over the new Mersey Gateway Bridge for Warrington's motorists after launching a fresh attack on ministers.

Motorists in Warrington and Cheshire West and Chester were told they would have tolls waived by former Chancellor George Osborne ahead of the 2015 General Election.

But last month the Government made a U-turn after confirming extending the discount scheme to Liverpool City Council, Knowsley and St Helens would cost £604 million.

It means some residents in the borough could be forced to fork out £1,080 a year to cross the site when it opens to traffic later this year.

Council leader Cllr Terry O'Neill has expressed his 'ongoing frustration and disappointment' over the decision.

And he again slammed Warrington South MP David Mowat.

Cllr O'Neill (LAB – Burtonwood and Winwick) said: "The decision of the Government to withdraw from its clear commitment to free tolls on the Mersey crossing is a total disgrace and an act of political deceit.

"The Chancellor's statement prior to the Government elections was clear and unequivocal that residents and businesses in Warrington would have free passage over the crossing.

"It wasn't a promise but a clear comment made days before the election.

"The Tory candidate for Warrington South publicly welcomed the commitment of free passage and was subsequently re-elected.

"We will never know how many electors chose to exercise their vote influenced by the Chancellor's commitment.

"The recent announcement by Government – that it had to reconsider because of a legal challenge – is another example of deceitful smoke and mirrors.

"As far as I understand, no local council has considered such legal action.

"Warrington businesses and residents deserve to know the truth and I call upon the Government to reinstate free passage across the crossings.

"After all, this is what the original commitment was."

The six-lane bridge over the Mersey, between Runcorn and Widnes, will be tolled, along with the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.

Mr Mowat has not commented.