Ask the Panel: What impact has the Mersey Gateway Bridge had so far?
The £600 million Mersey Gateway Bridge finally opened last October with the promise of economic benefit to businesses on both sides of the river. With debate continuing over the palpable merits of the project, we’re asking experts:
What impact has the Mersey Gateway Bridge had on the North West so far?
Malcolm Bingham | head of road network management policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA)
We know that the imposition of tolls at the new Mersey crossing has created an administration burden on companies that is a cost to the freight industry.
That cost, unseen by the bridge operators, together with the toll itself, will have to be absorbed by freight operators and at some point passed on to their customers.
We will continue to monitor our members’ costs and difficulties with the toll to ensure that there is a recognition of the real cost to the public of this tolled bridge.
Freddie Oakey | associate development director at db symmetry
The positive impact that the Mersey Gateway Bridge is having on Merseyside and the wider North West cannot be underestimated.
The improved connectivity is helping to attract occupiers to the area who can now access a wider labour pool.
In October last year, we completed the development of a 90,000 sq ft facility to advanced manufacturing firm LPW Technology, working in partnership with Halton Borough Council.
One of the driving factors in the company’s decision to be based there was its ability to tap into a highly skilled labour pool from both sides of the river.
Attracting high profile businesses such as LPW will in turn attract further inward investment to the area.
Indeed, we’re looking at further development opportunities in the area, which is largely thanks to the improved connectivity and infrastructure which is continuing to happen within the Liverpool City Region.
Richard Bamber | managing partner at Anthony’s Travel
It was promoted that there would be parity between the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Mersey Tunnel. The business community was somewhat misled on that.
We’ve got a coach going through the tunnel on the tag for £2.40, whilst the same vehicle going over the bridge is £7.20.
Where we are based in Runcorn, we’re nearer to the old bridge, so we’re doing more mileage if we want to go directly to Widnes.
It’s affected deliveries as well. Certain companies will not deliver in Runcorn or Widnes unless they’ve got multiple drops to do.
As a business, we’ve lost contracts with numerous Widnes schools who won’t book us for certain trips because it’s better to get someone from the other side of the water – even though we’ve worked with them for years.
Halton Borough Council is very keen to talk about the economic benefits the bridge has brought but it’s the tangible benefits which we can’t see at the moment.
Simon Roddam | director at BE Group
BE Group has been marketing commercial property across Warrington and Halton for over 30 years.
In that time we have experienced the highs and lows in occupier demand, and we are currently experiencing high demand in Halton at present.
Some of this is undoubtedly due to supply constraints in neighbouring markets, but it is also due to the completion of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in our view.
Whilst the construction period did create some challenges on the local road network in both Widnes and Runcorn, since the opening of the new bridge and the new enhanced road links, we have found that the occupier viewing experience is much better due to the quicker road connections in and out of the areas close to the new bridge.
In fact, the last five occupier deals we have been involved with on the Manor Park and Astmoor Estates have been with inward investors.
These occupiers relocated their businesses from the wider Cheshire and Merseyside territories, which is a characteristic uncommon in recent years.