MERSEY Gateway chiefs have played down fears over the multi-million pound Warrington Western Link being used as a 'rat run'.

Residents believe congestion in the town could be increased – due to motorists opting to drive through Warrington to avoid the tolled Mersey Gateway Bridge – if the bypass is built.

Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid said the Western Link could be used as a 'rat run' and called for it to be tolled for non-residents of Warrington, if the Government refuses to scrap tolls on the Mersey Gateway Bridge for the borough's motorists.

However, the Mersey Gateways Crossings Board has responded to concerns.

A spokesman said: "The Mersey Gateway Crossings Board has been aware of Warrington Borough Council's proposals for a Warrington Western Link road for some time.

"Naturally, the board has an interest in the implications of any transfer of traffic from the Mersey Gateway to a potential Western Link.

"The board's initial feeling is that the potential to attract traffic from the Mersey Gateway Bridge is very limited.

"This is based upon information available to date and the board's knowledge of the traffic modelling associated with the Mersey Gateway project.

"This will, however, be investigated in more detail as and when the Western Link proposal develops further.

"Warrington Borough Council and Halton Borough Council signed a memorandum of understanding a number of years ago to jointly monitor the situation of potential traffic transfer.

"We'd like to urge anyone who will use the new Mersey Gateway Bridge to register for discounts on tolls as soon as possible and beat the rush by registering online at"

Mr Rashid is keeping the pressure on the Government over the tolls controversy.

He said: "Many of my constituents have told me that they are concerned that the tolling of the two Halton bridges is likely to result in more traffic congestion on Warrington roads.

"I share their concerns.

"Regardless of how the Western Link is designed and the 'memorandum of understanding' between Warrington and Halton councils, those drivers who do not want to pay the bridge tolls will use the Western Link.

"I have called on the secretary of state to exempt Warrington residents and businesses from the tolls on the Halton bridges and I will keep up the pressure on this important issue.

"However, there is a real fear locally that if the Government continues to ignore the calls of Warrington residents and businesses on this then the Western Link could simply attract further traffic congestion, bearing in mind it will free up further land for over 4,000 houses.

"One of the criticisms made by residents during the Western Link consultation was that traffic flow data was not available.

"Clearly, we need to see this tangible traffic data before we can understand what impact, if any, the Western Link could have."