TOLLS look set to stay on the new Mersey Gateway bridge as a last chance appeal by a Liberal Democrat councillor against her own party’s support of the project failed.

Clr Jo Crotty (LD - Bewsey and Whitecross) had launched a late bid against the council approving terms with Halton Borough Council on supporting the proposed new crossing of the Mersey.

Forecasts show that the number of vehicles diverting through Warrington’s roads to avoid the charge would see congestion rise by between four and 10 per cent, depending on the amount charged.

The executive board decision to support the plans were questioned because they had not fully assessed other mitigating options and the lack of consultation, according to Clr Crotty.

She said: “The council has not carried out any consultation at all on its decision to support the Mersey Gateway project even though there will be adverse effects for residents. I believe that consultation in Warrington would show that, as in Halton, most residents are against a scheme which would bring few benefits and many disadvantages.”

But Clr Alan Litton (LD - Great Sankey South), executive member for environment services said the council had to work with their Halton counterparts or risk becoming isolated.

He said: “It is not just about a particular scheme. It’s about putting ourselves in a partnership to make proposals for funding from government. Funding that’s going to be available in many different ways.”

The sustainable environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee heard that among the mitigating measures already highlighted in the talks include a park and ride scheme in Daresbury.

Clr Litton added that in an agreement between the two Warrington would get a cut of the profits from the tolls in future, which could be around £500,000 between the two.

He said that if the Mersey Gateway were not to go ahead the impact on the town’s roads could be worse in the future as the existing Runcorn/Widnes Bridge would have to be closed for repair as it is in a ‘fairly advanced state of decay’.

The committee ruled that no action be taken after the executive board had voted in favour of an agreement between the two councils.

Clr Crotty said afterwards: “I’m extremely disappointed that the call-in was not successful, but will continue my campaign to have the Mersey Gateway funded by the Government, removing the need for tolls, so that it can benefit the wider North West, Warrington included.”

The public inquiry into the proposed river crossing will start on May 19.