Warburton Toll Bridge Proposed Order
This page was created to assist with responses to the Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC) (owned by Peel Holdings) proposed amendments to the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Toll system and to the Warburton Cantilever Bridge ownership and maintenance responsibility.
Video ride through of Warburton Bridge Road:
The consultation closed on Tuesday 18th January 2022.
On 15th February, the Department of Transport wrote to people who responded to the consultation to confirm:
the intention to hold an inquiry as required by rule 4 of the Transport and Works (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 2004, S.I. No. 2018 ("the Inquiries Rules"), and the date of this letter is the “starting date” for the purposes of the timetabling arrangements in the Inquiries Rules.
If you responded and do not wish to give oral evidence at the inquiry, then correspondence to date (e.g. your response to the November 2021 consultation) will be 'heard' at the inquiry
If you do wish to give oral evidence at the inquiry, you must have provided a 'statement of case' no later than 29th March 2022, to include a list of any documents to which you intend to refer, and include copies of those documents (or relevant extracts from them).
- The Secretary of State has appointed Mike Robins MSc BSc(Hons) MRTPI as Inspector to conduct the Inquiry into this application.
- The Inspector will open the main Inquiry at 10:00am on Tuesday 8 November 2022 at The Village Hotel Warrington, 110 Central Park Square, Warrington, WA1 1QA.
- The Department of Transport will forward to the Inspector all the written representations we have received to date about this application.
- The Inspector has decided that a pre-inquiry meeting should be held under rule 8 of the Inquiries Rules. The meeting will be held at 10:00am on Monday 12 September 2022 in VIRTUAL FORMAT. The main purposes of a pre-inquiry meeting are to discuss the practical arrangements for the inquiry, to set an inquiry programme and to clarify the scope of the inquiry. There is no discussion at a pre-inquiry meeting of the merits of the proposals in question. For an explanation of what happens at pre-inquiry meetings, please refer to question 27 of the Brief Guide to Transport and Works Act orders.
- Question 30 of the Brief Guide explains the requirements for submitting proofs of evidence between the pre-inquiry meeting and the opening of the inquiry. Specific arrangements for the submission of proofs in this case will be discussed at the pre-inquiry meeting.
- The applicant has appointed Helen Wilson of Helen Wilson Consultancy Limited 25 Ashtree Farm Court, Willaston, Neston, Cheshire, CH64 2 XL. Email firstname.lastname@example.org as programme officer for the inquiry. The duties of a programme officer are described at question 28 of the Brief Guide.
For those who do not wish to give oral evidence at inquiry:
- Your correspondence about this scheme will be forwarded to the Inspector conducting the inquiry for him to consider with all other evidence. However, if you decide that you wish to add to your correspondence, you may do this either in writing (before or during the inquiry) or, with the permission of the Inspector, orally during the inquiry. If at any stage you decide that you wish to present oral evidence to the inquiry, please let us know immediately so that we can advise you about the procedures for doing so. Anybody may attend the inquiry as a member of the audience without intending to speak. You do not have to make prior arrangements to do this.
Statement of Matters
This Statement relates to the public inquiry to be held into the application by Manchester Ship Canal Company (“MSCC”) for:
(i)the above proposed Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 (“TWA”).
The TWA Order application will be determined by the Secretary of State for Transport.
This statement sets out under rule 7(6) of the Transport and Works (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 2004 the matters about which the Secretary of State for Transport particularly wishes to be informed about for his consideration of this application. The matters are as follows:
The aims and objectives of, and the need for, the proposed Rixton & Warburton Bridge improvements (“the scheme”).
Whether all statutory procedural requirements have been complied with.
The statutory power within the TWA to allow for an increase in the tolls.
The likely impact of the provisions in the TWA Order, including the increase in the toll and any other impacts on existing users, local communities and businesses.
The adequacy of the proposed discount scheme for local residents.
Impact of increase in the toll on alternative routes including air quality and traffic congestion.
Any other matters which may be raised at the inquiry which may be important and relevant to the Secretary of State’s decision.
It should be noted that whilst the above matters appear to the Secretary of State, from the evidence so far available, to be the principal ones that need to be addressed, this statement does not preclude the inquiry Inspector from hearing evidence on any other matters that he/she may consider relevant to the consideration of the application. In addition, this statement does not pre-determine the order in which issues are to be addressed at the inquiry, nor does the numbering imply any order of importance.
Definitions used in this section
(these definitions differ from those used by the Manchester Ship Canal Company [MSCC] as these follow the statutory terms used in the various Acts of Parliament that apply)
- The 1863 Act - Rixton and Warburton Bridge Act 1863 ("the 1863 Act"
- The 1867 Act - Rixton and Warburton Bridge Amendment Act 1867 (the 1867 Act")
- The 1885 Act - Manchester Ship Canal Act 1885 ("the 1885 Act")
- The 1890 Act - Manchester Ship Canal (Various Powers) Act 1890 ("the 1890 Act")
- Rixton and Warburton Bridge - the Bridge over the river Mersey, specified in the 1863 and 1867 Acts, including the approach Roads between the A57 Manchester road, and Warburton Cross at the junction of Townfield Lane and Paddock Lane (this definition pre-dates and so excludes the Cantilever bridge).
- The Cantilever bridge - the High level Cantilever bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, specified as works number 35 in the 1885 Act and 1890 Act
- The Undertaking - the combined Road and bridges, e.g. the combination of the Rixton and Warburton Bridge and the Cantilever bridge.
- MSC - Manchester Ship Canal
- MSCC - Manchester Ship Canal Company
- The Toll - the current Toll authorised under the 1863 Act
- The Proposed Order - The RIXTON AND WARBURTON BRIDGE DRAFT TRANSPORT AND WORKS ORDER dated November 2021 (using MSCC's shouty capitalisation!).
- ANPR - "Automatic Number Plate Recognition", a technology that 'reads' vehicle registration plates using a digital camera, recording the registration string as a data file.
A short section on background to the Toll, the infrastructure and timeline has been moved to the bottom of the page.
It's worth reading for context, but not essential.
Feedback / Comments
Please use the contact form on this site to make any comments or advise of errors or raise further points, or ask any questions on the Warburton Toll Bridge Action Group Facebook Page (a Facebook account will be required; this site is not part of the Action Group)
There have been a number of requests for an objection letter template - rather than have many people send an identical letter, it would be preferable to submit the following general concerns, ideally with a few words of your own providing constructive feedback / objections, using ideas from the 'Reasons for Objection' list below:
- You disagree with the increase in the Toll to use Warburton Bridge Road
- The Manchester Ship Canal Company should pay for their own obligations
- The Manchester Ship Canal Company must not apply unreasonable new laws to Warburton Bridge Road
Reasons for Objection
The following are provided as guidelines or ideas for you to object. Ideally please use your own words, and as many or as few as these points as you like. If you copy and paste, please check for formatting changes that could alter the context.
- Under this proposal, MSCC seek a transfer of BOTH the Cantilever bridge and the original Rixton and Warburton Bridge into a new vehicle (company) that absolves MSCC of any liability for future maintenance, and would begin to fund the Cantilever bridge via effectively a revised Toll. The Cantilever bridge is a separate entity to the 'original' Bridge (over the original course of the river Mersey) and Road specified under the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Act 1863; the Cantilever bridge and associated maintenance is a responsibility of the MSCC under the 1885 and 1890 Act, with maintenance of the Cantilever bridge funded by revenue from the Manchester Ship Canal.
- The right to charge a Toll is granted to the same Company that is responsible for maintaining the Ship Canal Cantilever bridge, whilst profit from the Toll can (of course) be used as the MSCC sees fit, the 1863 Act is clear that the Toll can only be used for the purposes of the 1863 Act - given that in 1863 the Cantilever bridge did not exist and the 1863 legislation states that Toll cannot be used for purposes other than for the 1863 Act.
- It can help to consider the analogy of the Cantilever bridge at Latchford (near identical in the legislative text and in physical construction to the Warburton Cantilever bridge) - how would users of the Rixton and Warburton Toll Bridge feel if the Toll were used to fund upkeep of the Latchford Cantilever Bridge? There is no legal difference between this analogy and what MSCC are proposing in this Order - it is 'unfair' on the users of the Toll, to pay for maintenance of a structure that was not in place when the Rixton and Warburton Bridge and associated Toll were enacted. The current Toll was specified to fund a Bridge and Road costing up to £8,500, the various Acts of 1863, 1867, 1885 and 1890 do not change this specification, or grant the MSCC any right to maintain the Cantilever bridge from the Toll.
- The 1863 Act allowed for funding of the Rixton and Warburton Bridge and Road, to the value of £8,500 (£7,000 from dividends + a £1,500 loan, or mortgage) as recorded in the 1863 Act and confirmed by the 1890 Act. The intention of the 1863 Act is to fund the £8,500 capital outlay and maintenance, allowing for a return on the investment via dividends. MSCC in the Proposed Order incorrectly argue that the Toll should be funding the Cantilever bridge, but neglect that at the point the Toll was defined in 1863 the Cantilever bridge was not conceptualised - an 'opening' Bridge was proposed in 1885, revised to the current incarnation in the 1890 Act and built after this date. Parliament could have extended or increased the Toll to cover maintenance of the Cantilever bridge in either the 1885 Act or 1890 Act (or both) but did not.
- The 1885 and 1890 Acts gives permission for the benefit, or construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Where the Ship Canal cut through existing roads, the 1885 Act and 1890 Acts required the Manchester Ship Canal Company to create a new obligation - or Bridge - to cross the Ship Canal. The Warburton Cantilever bridge is just one of these Bridges with the 1890 Act specifying that all of these 'new' Bridges are to be maintained by the MSCC under this obligation, in return for the benefit of building the MSC and obtaining the benefit of the associated revenue stream that the MSC has historically, and still generates.
- MSCC state in their Business Case that they are using revenue from the Toll to pay off maintenance from the last major refurbishment of the Cantilever bridge - whilst if there is profit from the Toll then MSCC are within their rights to move profit from one part of their business to fund costs in another area, as soon as an increase in the Toll is requested it must be questioned why when there is excess profit from the Toll that is being used to fund costs outside the scope of the Toll, there is any need to increase the Toll.
- If MSCC have been using the revenue from the Toll to fund the Warburton Cantilever bridge repairs from ~23 years ago (where the Cantilever bridge maintenance should be met from the MSC revenue as per the 1890 Act), there is a strong argument that MSCC have been over-charging for the Toll in recent years, and that (subject to the points below on maintenance), the Toll should have been reduced accordingly.
- Maintenance - the current Warburton Bridge Road is in a poor state of repair, such that MSCC acknowledge in the Business Case that vehicles have been damaged by pot holes due to the lack of maintenance. This Proposed Order has the appearance of presenting a Toll increase as the only option - why was this not raised years ago, before the Road and Cantilever bridge deteriorated to such an extent?
- The junction of Warburton Bridge Road and the A57 is prone to flooding during and after heavy rain, whilst all causes cannot be easily determined, the gullies on both sides of the Cantilever bridge are mostly blocked (>90% by numbers), with rainwater flowing down the only route into the area that floods. The gullies do not appear to have been cleared in over a year, possibly much longer. Vehicles have been stranded by the floodwater (likely written off if water damage to the engine occurred) - MSCC are not maintaining the Warburton Bridge Road to an acceptable or minimum standard of a public highway, the Business Case does not cover any additional funding for maintenance (either a sufficient maintenance budget exists, but is being used elsewhere, or the Business Case has a highway maintenance - sized gap in it)
- As a public highway funded by a statutory Toll, MSCC have a fiduciary duty of care to users to both maintain the highway, and to keep costs as low as reasonably possible. The Business Case does not acknowledge this obligation.
- The proposed bylaws and extension of powers in the Proposed Order are a massive over-reach of power, and are a nonsense when you consider that a near identical bridge at Latchford has no apparent need of such bylaws. The bylaws are badly thought out - for example it would be an offence under the proposed bylaws to stop if you knock a cyclist or pedestrian over. You would have to request permission to carry a dangerous object over the Undertaking (a hammer, a kitchen knife etc, in the boot of your car), the proposed bylaws would make it an offence to stop and deal with a child choking in the back seat. A vehicle that breaks down on Warburton Bridge Road would be liable to a fine if they used their own recover service (e.g. the AA or RAC), of those services were not 'authorised' by MSCC, and / or would have to use a recovery service proscribed by MSCC at an undetermined, additional cost.
- The proposed bylaws are not practical - on a free flow road system, vehicle drivers cannot be expected remember the details, and it is not possible to display the relevant detail at a suitable entry point to the Undertaking (to display the bylaws and require drivers read & understand these would likely create a hazard at the A57 / Warburton Bridge Road junction, and at the Warburton Bridge Road / Paddock Lane junction).
- The Proposed Order includes several instances where a user must perform an action 'immediately' e.g. if a car is stolen, the owner must inform MSCC 'immediately' - these are not practical, any reasonable person will have to deal with family, work, insurance and Police matters, and cannot be expected to inform MSCC 'immediately' - there are multiple associated instances of an 'immediate' action, that are just not reasonable or equitable.
- The exclusion of horse drawn vehicles is unnecessary, disproportionate and blatantly unfair. It appears that the proposed bylaws make it an offence to take a horse over the Undertaking in a horsebox without prior approval
- Proportionate - the proposed method of Toll collection is not defined - such a Free Flow Toll collection system has not as far is it is possible to tell ever been implemented on a comparable road (with traffic flow limited by entry and exit junctions); the costs that are suggested in the Business Case and the Proposed Order are not backed up with any detail that can be used to evaluate value for money, or even allow implementation to be measured and accountable. MSCC have a fiduciary duty to the users that they intend to fund the proposed system (including the cost of finance) to keep costs reasonably low. The proposals are for a Rolls Royce revenue collection system on a minor road between townships (Warburton Bridge Road is an unclassified road ends at a B road - the B5159 Townfield Road and another unclassified road - Paddock Lane).
- Risk - there’s a scatter gun approach of toll collection processes that are poorly defined, and include prepayment (but no description of how this would operate), tag (also likely to be pre-payment, though not defined how this would work as a collection process) and ‘ANPR’ - presumably as per the Mersey Gateway - users have to remember to pay, or get fined. The cost and risk of all of these novel approaches is placed on the users, charged via the increased Toll. The resulting Capital costs will incur significant interest charges, that the users will also fund.
- The GMC clean air proposals are mostly ignored - these will impose new charges / penalties on users of Warburton Bridge Road e.g. travelling from Warrington to Lymm
- The Business Case:
- Uses inconsistent terminology, causing unnecessary confusion (MSCCo vs. MSCC)
- Uses incorrect statistical mechanisms, e.g. cherry picked examples to illustrate time & distance savings (in s.3.3), and then in the paragraph below Table 3-4 on p. 24, extrapolates these into savings for all users of the Undertaking
- Is simply not a valid business case! - e.g. a definition of a 'Business Case' is "a justification for a proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit.” The MSCC Business Case does not mention profit, and does not consider Operational Costs (OpEx) of the Undertaking (these costs, such as road sweeping, clearing gullies, staff costs etc), or of the proposed Toll System(s) such as software licences, DVLA access fees, GDPR registration fees, as well as presumably amended staff costs that are mentioned in the present environment in table 5-3, but would change substantially under whatever setup MSCC intend (but don't define).
- Contains numerous material errors
- (figure 4.6 appears to show the wrong year on the x-axis
- s.2.4.1 "As can be seen from the above, the major cause of complaint from users relates to the problems that arise as a consequence of queues” - simply not true - the single major cause of complaint, according to the figures provided, is the poor condition of the road surface, due to lack of maintenance / the MSCCo not maintaining it's obligations under the 1863 Act (e.g. maintain the Rixton & Warburton Bridge and Road) and the 1885 & 1890 Acts (maintain works No. 35 - the Cantilever bridge over the MSC)
- s.3.4 "Catford" (should be "Cartford")
- Assumes the history ‘loss’ of the overall Undertaking, based on maintenance costs of the Cantilever bridge being offset against the Toll (against Parliaments intention)
- Compares against other Toll Bridges that actually include bridges (the Rixton and Warburton Bridge is filled in….), none of which have converted to free flow tolling
- Acknowledges that free flow tolling will generate significant income when the M6 is closed, increasing revenue and profit from other's bad fortune and negating the 'agreement' with Warrington Borough Council.
- Refers to costs (claims for vehicle damage etc) directly attributable to poor maintenance of the existing undertaking
- The language used in the Proposed Order consistently avoids commitment to possible liabilities or responsibility - e.g. Part 4, 8.5:
- The Proposed Order refers to "return on investment" that is not mentioned in the Business Case. A Business Case with no profit is not a valid Business Case.
- A6 Consultation report appendices, the 'Legal Powers" section on p.39 (but labelled p.11!) the following is a poor attempt to misdirect:
- MSCC Comment: "Acts of Parliament imply that the toll can only fund the original Stone Bridge and not the current High-Level Bridge, so this later bridge should be funded from other sources than tolls."
MSCC Response: "The Manchester Ship Canal (Various Powers) Act 1890 (the 1890 Act) authorised the diversion of the existing Rixton and Warburton Road and construction of the replacement bridge road and the replacement Rixton & Warburton Bridge. The same Act provided for the diversion to be substituted for the existing road (which included the Bridge) within the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Company undertaking, including in respect of the levying of tolls, and for that undertaking to be part of MSCCo’s undertaking. This included the power to levy tolls in respect of those parts of the undertaking"
This 'response' does not actually answer the question - it's a non-answer, breaking down these sections:
"Acts of Parliament imply that the toll can only fund the original Stone Bridge and not the current High-Level Bridge, so this later bridge should be funded from other sources than tolls."
This question has been written, or authorised by MSCC. Acts of Parliament do not "imply" - they state the Law. The "Original Stone Bridge" is defined in the 1863 Act as the "Rixton and Warburton Bridge" e.g. it's a statutory definition, that MSCC are attempting to redefine. It appears that both this 'original Stone Bridge' is still in situ, albeit now largely buried, the 'High Level Bridge" or Cantilever bridge is an addition, not a replacement.
"The Manchester Ship Canal (Various Powers) Act 1890 (the 1890 Act) authorised the diversion of the existing Rixton and Warburton Road and construction of the replacement bridge road and the replacement Rixton & Warburton Bridge"
Incorrect - the Cantilever bridge is in ADDITION to the Rixton and Warburton Bridge. The Acts make no provision for removing the Rixton and Warburton Bridge.
"The same Act provided for the diversion to be substituted for the existing road (which included the Bridge) within the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Company undertaking, including in respect of the levying of tolls..."
Correct - within the 1890 Act the new stretch of ROAD is substituted for the old stretch of Road, and the new stretch of road is explicitly authorised to have tolls charged for any part of a journey on them, as per the 'old' stretch of Road. The term 'Bridge' is not used in this section.
".. and for that undertaking to be part of MSCCo’s undertaking."
Misleading. The 1890 Act arranged for the transfer of the Rixton & Warburton Bridge undertaking (the original bridge, the original approach roads, albeit about to be amended as at 1890, and the right to charge the toll on these). There is no provision to levy a toll for the new Cantilever Bridge (it is neither included nor excluded).
The 1885 Act clearly lists all the required Bridges over the MSC, with no special provisions for these in terms of who maintains these.
The 1890 Act expressly states "Provided that unless otherwise agreed the structure of every bridge and the immediate approaches thereto and all other necessary works connected therewith shall be repaired and maintained by the Company."
The 1863 Act states "The Tolls by the Act granted are by this Act vested in the Company for the Purposes of this Act." - e.g. the Toll is not to be used to raise funds for other pet projects (Cantilever bridges....)
- It is not clear that the statutory requirement for the Proposed Order to publish two notices within 14 and 7 days of the date of application has been met in both the Trafford and Warrington local newspapers.
- The Proposed Order powers to amend Tolls in Part 1.5 (2): "Whenever MSCC proposes to exercise its power pursuant to sub-paragraph (1) MSCC must publish in at least one local newspaper circulating in the area in which the Rixton and Warburton Bridge is situated, a notice substantially in the form set out in Part 2 of this Schedule."
- This is insufficient: any notice must be sent to all customers that have registered for electronic communications (on the assumption that the cost of this is very close to zero). Furthermore any toll change must state the reasons for the toll change, and the calculations used. Any pre-paid 'crossings' of the Undertaking must be considered (and should be redeemable at their original purchase priced). Notwithstanding, this whole section should be unnecessary due to the existing legislation being sufficient to fund the current undertaking (with the Cantilever bridge being maintained by MSCC under the 1885 & 1890 Acts).
- The Proposed Order is such a disproportionate use of process to avoid liabilities and responsibilities to maintain the Cantilever bridge and maintain a public highway as per the 1863 Act and the 1890 Acts respectively, that consideration should be given to bringing the entirety of Warburton Bridge Road and the Cantilever Bridge up to County Bridge and public highways and footpath standards, with ownership of Warburton Bridge Road subsequently transferred to the relevant local Authorities and Cantilever bridge maintenance remaining with the MSCC.
Regulation of tolls comes under the Transport Charges &c. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1954. The applicant has instead used the Transport and Works Act 1992 s.3 & s.5. This act allows “The Secretary of State may make an order relating to, or to matters ancillary to— (a) the construction or operation of an inland waterway in England and Wales.” It is first worth noting that the order applied for goes far beyond matters directly relating to the operation of the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC). In addition the measures it attempts to apply (so for example prohibiting smoking while transiting the bridge) are not in place on any other crossing of the MSC, and so would seem to be questionable that this legislation should be used to seek changes.
One specific matter of the Transport and Works Act 1992 being used is s.6. “An order under section 1 or 3 above shall not extinguish any public right of way over land……”. The order specifically removes the existing right of way for horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and livestock transporters not approved by the company. This step would result in these users having to divert over 12 miles to make the same crossing. There are further restrictions that would also remove the right of way from others, including slow vehicles and steam driven vehicles.
The Proposed Order and ‘Business Case’ include matters relating to the costs of maintaining and remedial works to the Cantilever bridge and associated ramps. These features were built long after the incorporation of the tolled crossing and the responsibility for the maintenance of these structures does not form part of the undertaking maintained by the tolls. These structures have fallen into disrepair due to the lack of maintenance, and it should be noted that over the last 5 years alone, the MSC delivered a gross profit of £128.4 million. The burden of Cantilever bridge part of the Undertaking sits with the profits of the Ship Canal Company, and should not be sought from the Toll.
The Undertaking is by statute a public road, and as such already falls under existing statutory and common law. The bylaws being sought apply severe penalties (Fines of £1,000) for ‘offences’ that either are not enforceable under reasonable legislation, or which would be dealt with informally, or at most with a much smaller penalty. In addition the bylaws seek to apply very different standards to those already in place - where ‘offences’ such as smoking in your own car, playing your car radio at a level high enough to annoy someone on the canal, could result in a fine of £1,000, without the existing, balanced protections given by statute. In the example given, a sound system being played excessively loudly is already controllable under section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, and yet the bylaws seek a penalty of Level 3, £1,000 for an ill defined ‘nuisance’
The Proposed Order discusses a ‘clean slate’ approach to the undertaking. This attempts to move all existing liabilities to a new company, while retaining all the profits of the last 130 years within the MSCC. This is simply not acceptable.
The current toll charge is £0.12, with a cap of £0.24 a day. The order seeks to raise this to £1, capped at £2 a day. This is a 733% increase. This is simple unacceptable to anyone, and will see a commuter facing an annual increase in costs from £87.60 to £730.
Whilst the Business Case suggests that the proposed Toll of £1 per crossing of the Undertaking includes VAT, the Proposed Order does not mention this. It is believed that only the Proposed Order would be enforceable, and without explicitly stating that VAT is included in the proposed (initial) £1 Toll, MSCC have the option to set the initial Toll at £1+VAT, e.g. £1.20 to the consumer or up to £2.40 per day for multiple crossings.
It is stated the last bridge inspection was in 2016, and this was of the Cantilever bridge. This is not the bridge maintained by the Toll. The proposed £6,500,000 costs of repairing (not upgrading, simply bringing the bridge up to its required capacity) pale alongside the £128,400,000 (£128.4M) gross profit made by the company responsible for its maintenance since 2016. It is noted no bridge inspection report is discussed for the actual bridge covered by the Tolls, which is the old low-level bridge that crossed the river Mersey. It is also noted that there is a 2 yearly cycle of bridge inspections – which calls into question why the 2016 report is the one referred to.
It is stated there is no reserve fund currently in existence to pay for the works identified in 2016 (Although there is also no separate operating account for the operation). It is expedient to again refer to the level of profits delivered by the MSC, to the MSCC over this period, and note that the 2021 accounts had cash balances declared of £8,900,000 (£8.9M). The key shareholder of the MSC is reported in 2019 as having a personal wealth of £1.95 Billion.
The Proposed Order does not retain the maximum daily charge of a two-way ticket (£0.25 at present) that has been in place since 1863; this will disproportionately affect those most dependent on Warburton Bridge Road, adding significant extra costs to their travel. A daily cap must be retained.
The Proposed order allows for the Proposed (amended) Toll to be increase, and then transferred to a second company that appears to have been created, but with no management or oversight structure. This third company is subsequently permitted to subcontract the Toll Collection to a third company, with no indication of oversight or management. Both the second and third companies presumably will incur running costs, staff costs and presumably are expected to earn profit, all paid for by the public - users of Warburton Bridge Road. There is no justification as to why a complex and convoluted management structure is required.
The Proposed Order, Business Case & associated documents fail to mention the original Stone Rixton & Warburton Bridge, built between 1863 & 1867, which is still in place, having apparently been backfilled with soil excavated from the Manchester Ship Canal, around the year 1895. This Bridge is presumably still intact and 'supporting' the bridge deck, and current road. No evidence is provided that this structure has been assessed as sound, or indeed has been assessed in over 120 years.
The definitions and terminology used in the Proposed Order and associated documents is inconsistent and counterproductive, being at best confusing and likely misleading to readers:
The Business Case defines: "R&W Toll Bridge - The bridge known as the Rixton and Warburton Bridge, authorised by the 1863 Act and the 1890 Act, together with the Bridge Road and all toll booths or other toll collection facilities constructed on the bridge or the Bridge Road"
The Proposed Order defines: “Rixton and Warburton Bridge” means the bridge known as the Rixton and Warburton Bridge authorised by the 1863 Act and the 1890 Act together with the bridge road and all toll booths or other toll collection facilities constructed on the said bridge or the bridge road as shown in the plan in Schedule 7"
There is no single Bridge authorised by 'the 1863 Act and the 1890 Act': the 1863 Act specifies a Bridge crossing the then river Mersey, defined in the 1863 legislation as "The Rixton and Warburton Bridge" (this bridge is immediately adjacent to the Toll booth, with likely the original railings, and the parapets clearly visible; the gap the bridge used to span has since been filled in), the 1890 Act amends the 1885 Act requiring MSCC build a second bridge, permitting this to be a fixed Cantilever bridge rather than the opening bridge specified in the 1885 Act.
The Toll and Rixton and Warburton Bridge (and Roads) were created under the 1863 and 1867 Acts. These Acts anticipated the Ship Canal and defined standards (the bridge abutments had to be over engineered to allow conversion to an opening bridge), but not the scale or route. The 1885, 1890 and related Acts permit the Ship Canal route, specify new bridges over the MSC where a road exists, and retain responsibility for maintenance of the new bridges with the new Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC). There is a clear distinction between diverted roads (maintenance stays with the body responsible for the original road), and new bridge and ‘immediate approach’ - presumably a few metres of road either side of the bridge.
The 1885 Act specifies an opening bridge, immediately where the Toll Bridge Road is bisected by the MSC. The 1890 Act makes two changes:
The opening bridge is converted to a high level bridge. This is likely significantly cheaper to build, operate and maintain. The major cost of the earthworks to raise the road will be mitigated by the large amount of earth needing to be removed from the new MSC. The new bridge & road will not have been popular with the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Company, who were struggling to repay depts, never mind make profit - it would have been less popular with their customers (due to the hill and longer route), and the disruption will have been considerable
The Rixton and Warburton Bridge Company is effectively compulsorily purchased by the MSC, the Toll is transferred but no other changes are made. The new Cantilever bridge is treated the same as the other crossings e.g. it is not given special consideration, nor are any terms changed for this MSC crossing due to the transfer of the Rixton and Warburton Bridge Co to the MSCC. ( Parliament could e.g. have specified that maintenance of the Cantilever bridge would be funded by the toll, but did not)
The Warburton Bridge Road (possibly with a buried bridge of unknown condition supporting or partially supporting the road surface at this section), Grade II listed property, and the Cantilever bridge are all in a poor state, with little to no maintenance over the last 20+ years.
The other MSC bridges that are built and operated under the same legislation (the 1885 and 1890 Acts) are generally in a poorly maintained state.
The MSCC acknowledge that they have been using revenue from the Toll to fund or pay accrued maintenance charges from the last major refurbishment of the Cantilever bridge.
The definitions provided are conflicting (different documents use different definitions for the same entity), and the definition of the ‘bridge’ is not clear; there is the original bridge over the Mersey, the “Rixton and Warburton Bridge” as defined in the 1863 Act, and the Bridge built under the 1885 / 1890 Acts - Works no. 35, aka “the Cantilever bridge”. The Rixton and Warburton Bridge and approach Roads are to be maintained under the existing Toll; the Cantilever bridge is under the 1890 Act the responsibility of the MSCC. Clearly as Warburton Bridge Road and the Cantilever bridge are now owned by the same company, it is expected that both can be combined, however the 1863 Act states in A.50 “The Tolls by the Act granted are by this Act vested in the Company for the Purposes of this Act.” which when taken with the date (>25 years before the MSC is built) and the requirement in the 1890 Act for (A.15):
"Every new or diverted road or footpath constructed under the powers of this Act shall be repaired and maintained by the Body or persons who repair and maintain the highways of the township or district in which such new road will be situate and every substituted road or footpath constructed under the powers of this Act shall vest in and be repaired by the same Body or persons as are now liable to repair and maintain the existing road or footpath for which it is substituted. Provided that unless otherwise agreed the structure of every bridge and the immediate approaches thereto and all other necessary works connected therewith shall be repaired and maintained by the Company."
Other resources / initiatives
The contents of this page are collaborative, involving a number of people. You are free to use sections of this page as you like. If you are publishing sections of this page elsewhere, please ensure you link back to this page ( www.lymm.uk/toll )
14/01/2022 23:00 hrs - inserted point #35 & picture
13/01/2022 22:00 hrs - added Lymm Radio interview link. Inserted point at #35
09/01/2022 22:00 hrs - added 'key points to make in your submission'; amendments to the list of 'reasons for objection'; addition of #34 & #35
09/01/2022 14:40hrs - 'Toll Bridge Road' corrected to 'Warburton Bridge Road'; added link to WBC agenda / 'Council Summons' for the 17/01/2021 meeting.
- Trafford Borough Council are holding an Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss the Proposed Order on 13/01/2022
- Warrington Borough Council are holding an Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss the Proposed Order on 17/01/2022, with the consultation closing on 18/01/2022. The papers for this meeting are here
- The Warburton Toll Bridge Action Group (Facebook Group)
- The Proposed Order and associated documentation on the Warburton Toll Bridge Website
- Lymm Radio have a listen again interview with Lymm Parish Councillor & Warrington South Borough Councillor Graham Gowland
- BBC News (website) article from 18th January 2021