Derek raised the issue of the Mersey Gateway Project with Treasury ministers yesterday in Parliament and urged them to exclude the proposed new Bridge from the cuts to be made by the Government.
In the Commons Chamber, Derek asked:
"Transport infrastructure is of course important for economic growth, and as the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Chancellor will know, as a Cheshire MP, there is a very important project, the Mersey Gateway project, which is crucial to the economic regeneration of Cheshire and Merseyside. Will that be excluded from the proposed cuts this Government are making?"
Treasury minister David Gauke replied:
"The Government will make a decision on all matters considering the value for money and considering the very difficult financial circumstances that we find ourselves in, bequeathed by the previous Government."
Afterwards Derek said:
"I wanted to raise the vitally important Mersey Gateway Project with the new Treasury ministers at the first opportunity to do so. It is essential this project is approved as soon as possible after the planning process is completed, which should be before the autumn. However, the minister's reply did cause me some concern as he repeated the clear Government strategy to blame the last Labour Government for the difficult financial circumstances that we currently face.
This is, of course, nonsense, and is being used as a prelude to deeper cuts the Coalition will announce in the forthcoming Budget. I hope the Mersey Gateway does not become a victim of these cuts which would condemn thousands of motorists and passengers in Halton, Cheshire and Merseyside to long delays in crossing the current Bridge for many years to come. It will also be a major blow to economic regeneration locally.
Prior to the General Election, Labour made clear its commitment to the Mersey Gateway. The new Coalition Government should do likewise."