ALL Mersey Gateway bridge appeals against the tolls at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal are on hold pending a review of a decision on a case taken against Halton Council.

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) has issued a decision that a motorist was not liable to pay the toll for using the new Mersey Gateway bridge because Halton Council, the charging authority, has not specified the sum of the charge in the Mersey Gateway Road User Charging Order 2017.

In the case of C vs Halton Borough Council, TPT adjudicator Andrew Barfoot said that Ms C, the appellant, was not liable to pay the £2 charge for using the bridge because the order does not specify that the charge is £2.

According to the adjudicator, this does not comply with the requirements set out in the Transport Act 2000.

On the evidence provided by the council the adjudicator also found that the council had failed to follow the commencement process contained in the Order itself.

Halton Borough Council does not agree with the adjudicator’s decision on either point and has applied for it to be reviewed, whilst also embarking on a consultation to make a fresh order that does specify the charges.

The review application will be heard by a different adjudicator on May 8, 2018.

All other appeals relating to the Mersey Gateway Bridge that are currently with The TPT have been delayed pending the outcome of the review decision.

Halton Council says it is business as usual and motorists should continue to pay tolls to cross the Mersey Gateway.

A Halton Council spokesman said:”

“After taking independent legal advice the council and Mersey Gateway Crossings Board Ltd strongly dispute this decision made by the TPT.

“The council are following due process and will rigorously dispute the adjudicator’s decision.

“Given this is a live case it is inappropriate to go into the detail of the particular case. However, we are advised by our independent legal advisors, who are specialists in this field, that the current Road User Charging Scheme Order (which is based on the Orders originally agreed by the Department for Transport) is legally sound.

“It’s business as usual on Mersey Gateway and motorists should continue to pay tolls to cross Mersey Gateway. Those who fail to do so will still face the risk of a penalty notice.

“Since the new bridge opened to traffic in October, over 10 million vehicles have crossed the bridge with drivers benefiting from its quicker, easier and more reliable journeys.

“Over this time, the council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board has received a number of comments and observations in respect of its operation, the Tolling Orders and the tolling regime.

“We’ve already made plans to update the Road User Charging Order to address these observations and to clarify matters surrounding the tolling regime that some (including TPT) feel are not clear. We are also proposing that even more users can benefit from the new crossing with unlimited trips and exemptions.

“A consultation to gather views about these proposed changes recently took place and the findings of the consultation will be published shortly.

The £600 million bridge opened in October 2017, charging charging £2 per crossing for cars, £6 for a van or small lorry and £8 for a larger lorry or bus.

As of February 2018, according to Halton Council approximately 242,690 penalty charges have been issued for failing to pay the charge.

To date there have been more than 3,489 penalty charge notices appealed to the adjudicators.

Halton Council has not contested 2,543 cases and a further 449 appeals have been heard and allowed by the adjudicators, resulting in the cancellation of the penalty charge.

Some 456 appeals are currently on hold pending the outcome of the review on May 8, 2018.