A DOCTOR says reopening the toll booth at Warburton Toll Bridge near Lymm presents an ‘inordinate risk’.

The charges were suspended for safety reasons in March following the coronavirus outbreak.

But the tolls have now been reintroduced.

Site owner Peel Ports says it takes the health and safety of all those using and operating the toll bridge very seriously and insists it has listened to the points raised over the last 48 hours.

“We have been liaising closely with our contractors on site and have put new measures in place,” said a spokesman.

“These include the introduction of a one-way collection system, which will come into effect on Wednesday June 3.

“On entry to the bridge from a southbound direction, drivers will have the option to purchase a single journey for 12p.

“Cash must be deposited in the collection tool. Exact change will be required.

“Day tickets won’t be provided, helping minimise unnecessary hand-to-hand contact between users and operators.

“As a result, we will not be asking bridge users for payment on entry to the bridge from a northbound direction.

“There will be no requirement to pay the 25p charge for day tickets until further notice.

“This will also enable us to operate the booth with just one member of staff.

“We will continue to provide PPE for all staff including face masks and gloves, which they are encouraged to change regularly, using the hand sanitiser provided while doing so.”

However, serious concerns have been raised over the issue.

Dr Dan Bunstone, lead GP at Chapelford Medical Centre and chief medical officer at Push Doctor, tweeted to say he can’t see how reopening the toll booth is safe or necessary.

He added: “As we ease lockdown, having two people in a small toll booth, in contact with every single driver that passes is an inordinate risk.”

Meanwhile, Lymm North and Thelwall Liberal Democrat borough councillors Cllr Ian Marks and Cllr Bob Barr expressed their views in a joint statement.

They said: “We were very pleased when Peel did the right thing and withdrew the tolls.

“There had been a lot of pressure from the public to do this. But we are not happy that they have reintroduced them at this stage.

“We have no doubt that they have done this following guidance from the experts but that doesn’t mean they had to make the change now.

“There are two main issues. Firstly, there is social distancing in the small cabin for the two members of staff who collect the toll money, not to mention social distancing between staff and drivers.

“Secondly, there is the touching of coins because change will often have to be given as part of the 12p toll charge transaction. Staff may be wearing gloves but the public won’t be.

“We know that the operation of tolls at the best of times on this bridge is a highly contentious matter but we really think Peel should have delayed the introduction until the pandemic is less virulent. We ask them to think again.”

For further information visit warburtontollbridge.co.uk.