The body which adjudicates on contested traffic fines in England and Wales (outside London) has suspended all decisions about fines at the Mersey Gateway after a court ruling over a legal technicality.
It comes after the Traffic Penalty Tribunal decided that a motorist was not liable to pay the toll for using the new Mersey Gateway Bridge because Halton Borough Council, the charging authority, has not specified the sum of the charge in the Mersey Gateway Road User Charging Order 2017.
In C vs Halton Borough Council the Traffic Penalty Tribunal 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.
However the operators of the crossing insist it is “business as usual” and that they strongly contest the decision.
Responding to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s decision, which also found that the Council had failed to follow the commencement process contained in the Order itself meaning all other appeals relating to the Mersey Gateway currently with the Tribunal have been delayed pending the outcome of the review decision, Halton Borough Council and Mersey Gateway Crossings Board Ltd say they are following due process and will rigorously dispute the adjudicator’s decision.
And they are telling drivers that they should continue to pay tolls to cross Mersey Gateway and those who fail to do so will still face the risk of a Penalty Notice.
“Given this is a live case it is inappropriate to go into the detail of the particular case,” they say. “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.”