Motorist not caused injustice by toll bridge charges

A Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found a motorist was not caused any injustice when he was charged a penalty for not paying a toll to cross the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

The motorist complained to the Ombudsman after the council told him it would not be repaying his penalty charge.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“We have issued this report because of the significant local interest in the case, and to highlight the way we will look at any future complaints that might come to us.

“Although we have made no finding on whether the council’s toll was administered correctly, we can say this has no bearing on whether the man should have been charged.

“Clearly in this case, the motorist had an expectation that he must pay a fee to cross a well-advertised toll bridge, or face a penalty for not paying.”

When considering appeals from other motorists against charges imposed, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal decided there had been a procedural error in the way Halton Borough Council made the road charging order underpinning the tolls. The council successfully implemented a replacement order in the same terms as originally intended.

One of the fundamental principles for the Ombudsman is to remedy injustice by putting people back into the position they would have been in had there been no fault. In this case, had the apparent fault in the original order not occurred, the council would have passed a valid order requiring motorists using the bridge to pay.

The Ombudsman therefore considered it did not need to investigate whether there had been fault in the making of the original order, because any procedural errors did not cause the motorist any injustice.

Article date: 15 February 2019

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