HALTON Borough Council has asked the government to suspended tolls on the Mersey Gateway bridge due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The council hopes that the move will to temporarily remove crossing fees will support key workers fighting the covid-19 pandemic.

But it requires the consent of the government to do so.

Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “We have put a proposal into government asking them to agree to remove tolls from Mersey Gateway, as we need Government consent to do this.

“We are currently waiting for their response.

“If the government agrees our request, Halton Borough Council – in conjunction with the Department for Transport – will be suspending the requirement to pay road user charges on the Mersey Gateway with immediate effect and will also be kept under review in line with government announcements.

“The council would encourage those not engaged in key worker roles to comply with government guidance to stay at home, work remotely where ever possible and only make journeys that are necessary.

“For those in key worker roles – such as NHS workers, care workers and others, whether employed or volunteers – engaged in supporting vulnerable people and those most at risk from covid-19, we want to make it easier and remove the added burden of worrying if they have paid their toll on time, so they can concentrate on helping us keep people safe.”

The news came as Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announced that Mersey Tunnel tolls have been suspended – effective from 8pm tonight, Thursday.

Mr Rotheram added: “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and that is why – following discussions with our six council leaders – I am today suspending all tolling on the Mersey Tunnels.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do for our key workers, who have to travel and are working tirelessly in our communities day in and day out to provide crucial services to keep us all safe.

“In light of national advice, there should only be key workers using our tunnels and by suspending the tolls we can actively support them in what are extremely challenging circumstances.

“Please stay at home and only leave the house if absolutely necessary.

“We must all do this if we are going to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and ease the pressure on our NHS and other vital services.

“Our public services are doing their jobs, you need to do yours – stay home, stay safe and save lives.”