The Board which runs the Mersey Gateway Crossings between Warrington and Runcorn in Northwest England has told SMART Highways people must pay to cross or risk a fine, despite ongoing questions over the legality of the toll.
A court case is testing whether the wording is correct, with one leading expert in the field saying there may be a way to get out of paying the Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for not paying the tolls.
Dr Adam Snow, who is a senior law lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University told the Liverpool Echo that the wording on some Penalty Charge Notices says it was issued on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, and looked to be copied from a Dartford Crossing PCN. The newspaper says Dartford crossing fines are payable to the Government, but Mersey Gateway fines are paid to Merseyflow and it is Halton Council, not the Secretary of State, who authorise this.
Dr Snow said this error was known as a “procedural impropriety” and in his view would be grounds for contesting any PCN that said it was issued on the authority of the Secretary of State.
However a spokesman for the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board told SMART Highways, “The new Charging Order that came into effect on the 19th April 2018 now regulates tolling on Mersey Gateway, so it is very much business as usual on Mersey Gateway and it’s really important that everyone pays their toll charges to avoid the risk of getting a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
“The TPT hearing was only about five cases under the earlier Order which has now been superseded. We’re pleased that the review hearing has taken place and that we have had the opportunity to clearly explain our case. We look forward to receiving the review adjudicator’s decision when published.
“There is no impact on PCNs from the wording highlighted at the tribunal, but we are constantly reviewing our materials and will update this appropriately.”