REMEMBER the time when George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Mowat was MP for Warrington South, the sun shone every day and all was well with the world.

We had a shiny new crossing over the Mersey to look forward to and with a general election in the offing, we were promised we could all use it for free.

Let’s revisit the heady days of April 2015. People living in Halton had already been told they didn’t have to pay crossing tolls and George Osborne was promising to re-examine charges on the Silver Jubilee and Mersey Gateway Bridge for us residents in Warrington.

Yippee and hurrah. What joy.

And just a few days later, it was official. George Osborne announced he was to quash tolls for us.

I don’t wish to appear cynical or world-weary but I do just wonder if the fact there was a general election the following month and Warrington South was a marginal constituency had anything to do with it.

Of course, it is well documented the Tories won a surprise majority and went back on the promise.

Now everyone apart from Halton residents has to pay to cross the new Mersey Gateway bridge and will also have to pay to cross the ‘old’ Silver Jubilee bridge when it reopens.

(I stand to be corrected but I think the tolling of the old bridge is the only example in this country of a previously free route becoming tolled.) I have not used the new crossing and I have no intention of doing so. I don’t like being misled, I don’t like having to pay for something that should be free and I am still uncomfortable with the fact senior politicians went back on their word.

If I was annoyed before, the latest piece of news to reach us about Merseyflow, the company that runs the crossing, has left me outraged.

The ultimate moral of this story is don’t break down on the bridge unless you have deep pockets.

So what should you do if you happen to break down on the Mersey Gateway?

Either call Merseyflow or wait to be spotted on CCTV. Ok so far, I can live with that.

But what if you are a member of a breakdown organisation or if someone you know can tow home?

Sadly, you’re out of luck and this is where it starts to get costly.

According to Merseyflow: “Individuals are not permitted to arrange their own vehicle’s recovery within the Mersey Gateway bridge area.

“Recovery operations on the Mersey Gateway are restricted to ensure all broken down and stranded vehicles are removed with an acceptable time frame of 30 minutes.

“There is a charge for the removal of broken down vehicles and these prices vary.

“The charges start at £150 for any vehicle on the road, upright and not substantially damaged.”

So, you’ve broken down and you can’t call use your own vehicle recovery service. Exactly what happens to your car and how do you get your vehicle back?

The contractor working for Merseylink – believed to be Hough Green Garage in Widnes – will take your car to its compound and hold on to it until the recovery fee and any ‘storage charges’ have been paid.

There’s no indication what the scale is and you can bet it’s not cheap.

But your car will be held hostage until you stump up the cash.

Highway robbery is alive and well.

  •  A glorious piece of political nonsense from Warrington and Halton Green Party, (you know those easy-going people who say things like: “Imagine a government that trusts in our common humanity. Imagine a government that believes in working with each other.”

How does the Green Party propose to tackle the problem of fly-tipping in Warrington? More CCTV and prosecutions apparently.

Steph Davies, local leader of the Greens, said: “Greater enforcement and publicity of this would deter more people from fly-tipping.”

You can’t beat soft and cuddly, touchy-feely, earth-loving Greens calling for Big Brother-esque police action, can you?