Life in bizarre UK village with its own guard and 12p charge to get in and out

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    A tiny rural village of 300 has been the centre of a controversial decision to charge drivers 12p every time they want to get in or out for the last 133 years.

    The toll bridge located in the north west of the village of Warburton, Manchester, has taken the modest, if unusual, sum from every motorist who has crossed – at a price fixed since 1890.

    The charge, collected by an attendant who sits with a bucket full of coins, has been the topic of fierce debate in the tiny village of 300 people since the 19th century.

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    When the bridge was built in 1863 by The Manchester Ship Canal Company it cost one person on horseback or cart 1p (18p in today's money) to cross.

    It was upped to the higher 12p toll in 1890 – a sum that can only be paid in cash and by hand. And now, in 2023, the fee could be increased once again.

    "The bridge is a nightmare," declares Steve Ellis, who spoke toManchester Evening News.

    One of the biggest problems comes when nearby motorways become backed up, leading to motorists trying to cut through Warburton using the toll road.

    This means that locals regularly get caught up in huge tailbacks as motorists queue to hand over their pennies.

    At rush hour, queues on Warburton Bridge Road and surrounding roads stretch back for several hundred yards as hundreds of drivers await their turn to pay.

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    "When the motorway has a problem, everyone tries to cut through", Steve said.

    "They don't upkeep it. If you drive over the bridge there's that many potholes you wouldn't believe it."

    Some residents of Warburton seem to be more relaxed about the bridge and the 12p toll.

    "I'm quite happy to have it," said Paddy Ruth, whose picturesque cottage is just a stone's throw from the bridge.

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    "It's not doing anybody any harm," he added.

    Locals could become even more riled up than they are, as the local council is planning on hiking the toll price by more than 700% in controversial plans that were laid out last year.

    Commuters to and from the town could end up paying £1 every time they cross the bridge, in the first price hike in more than 130 years.

    The proposed new price is part of a £6.5 million plan to upgrade approach roads, footpaths and the tolling system by Peel Ports, which currently, owns and operates the bridge.

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    If approved, the new toll will include a 50% discount for nearby residents.

    "I drive over the bridge at least once a day. If they put it up to a quid, it's going to cost me £4 or £5 a day,” Steve said.

    “It all mounts up,” he added.


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